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Lactose Intolerance: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Lactose Intolerance

  • Lactose intolerance concerns the sugar called lactose, which is abundant in milk and other traditional dairy products. This medical condition can have serious side effects, such as not getting enough calcium in your diet.
  • Your doctor may also have you take small amounts of dairy, usually in the form of yogurt that includes live bacterial cultures, to help your body learn to produce more lactase, which will minimize or eliminate completely your lactose intolerance and symptoms.


What is lactose intolerance, and what does this condition mean for you if you are affected? Lactose intolerance concerns the sugar called lactose, which is abundant in milk and other traditional dairy products. This medical condition can have serious side effects, such as not getting enough calcium in your diet. Since calcium is usually found most often in dairy products that are high in lactose, a lactose intolerant diet may not supply all the needed calcium and this can lead to problems in the future, such as brittle bones or osteoporosis. Diagnosing lactose intolerance in children is very important, because this is a prime growth time when many nutrients including calcium and vitamin D are needed for normal growth and maturation.

Lactose Intolerance ProductsCauses of Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance can be caused by a number of different factors. The basic cause of this disease is an inability to break down the sugar lactose in milk and dairy products, but what causes the deficiency can include the normal aging process in some individuals, usually called a primary lactose intolerance, an injury or illness that affects that ability of your body to break down the lactose, normally called a secondary lactose intolerance, or a congenital illness or condition that is present at birth, normally called congenital lactose intolerance. The enzyme lactose is responsible for breaking down lactose in your body, and if you are lactose intolerant your body is not making enough of this enzyme for some reason.

Symptoms of Lactose IntoleranceSymptoms of Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance can be very uncomfortable, and there may be symptoms which range from mild to severe. These symptoms include flatulence and gas, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, abdominal pain, and even a distended abdomen. A lot of times lactose intolerance can mimic the symptoms of a stomach or intestinal flu or virus, but they occur every time dairy products are consumed. Depending on the degree of lactose intolerance and the amount of dairy in your diet, you may experience mild discomfort or you can have severe symptoms which are excruciatingly painful. Because the symptoms of this disease can be caused by any number of other diseases or medical conditions as well, a doctor must do some tests to determine if you are lactose intolerant or not.

Lactose Intolerant DietTreatments for Lactose Intolerance

There are several treatments that can help if you suffer from lactose intolerance. You can try a lactose intolerant diet, which minimizes the amount and number of dairy foods that you eat, to keep symptoms in check and prevent problems. This step may require the use of lactose intolerance products, such as LACTAID® milk, which has some of the lactose already broken down or removed, to allow for easier digestion. These products are intended to allow individuals with lactose intolerance a substitute with all the nutrition of regular milk but without the symptoms or problems normal dairy products can cause. There are also supplements that you can take to help your body break down lactose more efficiently, and also nutritional supplements to help avoid poor nutrition due to the limit on dairy foods. Your doctor may also have you take small amounts of dairy, usually in the form of yogurt that includes live bacterial cultures, to help your body learn to produce more lactase, which will minimize or eliminate completely your lactose intolerance and symptoms.

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The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

2 Responses to “Lactose Intolerance: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment”

  1. 1
    Brad Says:
    I am actually Lactose intolerant and to be honest, this article is right on the money! Thanks for being so accurate!
  2. 2
    Kelly C. Says:
    I learned very quickly that whole milk and whole milk products and I simply do not get along. When I asked my doctor about it, he said I had a mild lactose intolerance which for someone who loves milk and dairy products is a bit of bummer. I switched to products that had less fat and sugar percentages and I'm fine, but every once in a while that ice cream cone from the truck or Dairy Queen will get to me.