Lactose Intolerance

What is it?
Lactose intolerance is an inability or difficulty digesting lactose, a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products. It occurs in patients without enough lactase, an enzyme normally found in the intestine that helps with digestion of lactose.

What are the symptoms?
Most people experience abdominal bloating, gas, cramps and diarrhea within 30 minutes to two hours after consuming products containing lactose.

How is it diagnosed?
Lactose Tolerance Test – After ingesting a test dose of lactose, the patient’s blood is checked over several hours to determine if blood sugar levels rise.\

Hydrogen Breath Test – After ingesting a test dose of lactose, the levels of hydrogen in the patient’s breath are monitored. High levels may indicate digestive problems.

How is it treated?
If symptoms are mild, avoiding milk and other dairy products may be sufficient.
A second option is buying milk that contains lactase, the enzyme that helps digest lactose. Lactase drops and tablets are also available, as well as lactose-free products.