Lactose intolerance is a condition in which people have digestive symptoms—such as bloating, diarrhoea, and gas—after eating or drinking milk or milk products.
- A deficiency of lactase — an enzyme produced in your small intestine — is usually responsible for lactose intolerance.
- Most people with lactose intolerance can manage the condition without having to give up all dairy foods.
- In rare cases, newborns are lactose-intolerant. A person born with lactose intolerance cannot eat or drink anything with lactose.
The signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance usually begin 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods that contain lactose. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Nausea, and sometimes, vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
How does lactose intolerance affect health?
- People with lactose intolerance may not get enough calcium if they do not eat calcium-rich foods or do not take a dietary supplement that contains calcium.
- Milk and milk products are major sources of calcium and other nutrients in the diet.
- Calcium is essential at all ages for the growth and maintenance of bones. A shortage of calcium intake in children and adults may lead to bones that are less dense and can easily fracture later in life, a condition called osteoporosis.
How is lactose intolerance managed?
- Many people can manage the symptoms of lactose intolerance by changing their diet.
- Some people may only need to limit the amount of lactose they eat or drink. Others may need to avoid lactose altogether.
- Using lactase products can help some people manage their symptoms.
- In infants with developmental lactase deficiency, the ability to digest lactose improves as the infants mature.
- People with primary and congenital lactase deficiency cannot change their body’s ability to produce lactase.
- National Health Service
- The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases