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LACTOSE INTOLERANCE

WHAT IS LACTOSE INTOLERANCE?


Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest/ metabolise lactose, which is a sugar mainly found in milk and milk products.


SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES


SYMPTOMS


Symptoms develop within half an hour to 2 hours of lactose ingestion.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include- 

  • Nausea,
  • indigestion 
  • Abdominal cramps, 
  • gas, bloating or
  • diarrhea

Lactose intolerance never causes constipation.


CAUSES


It occurs because of deficiency of an enzyme that is required to digest lactose in the small intestine. It may decrease in cases of-

Certain digestive diseases such as :

  • Crohn’s disease, 
  • ulcerative colitis, and 
  • celiac disease 

Stomach or intestinal infections and injuries to the small intestine as from surgery, any trauma, chemotherapy etc. may reduce the amount of enzyme needed to process lactose properly. 

Some children even have congenital deficiency of this enzyme.In this case, infants are unable to break down the lactose present in breast milk.


DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT


DIAGNOSIS


The most common way that people self-diagnose lactose intolerance is by an elimination diet- a diet without any lactose.

Some tests  that can detect an intolerance: 

  • Hydrogen breath test
  • Lactose tolerance test:

 The patient consumes a lactose solution and then  blood samples are taken to measure his/her glucose levels. 

If blood glucose levels remain the same, this indicates that glucose has not entered the blood. This is because the lactose has not been successfully broken down into glucose.

  • Stool sample: Lactose tolerance tests and hydrogen breath tests are not suitable for infants, so a stool test may be carried out.
  • Underlying disease or condition: A small intestine biopsy may be performed to rule out other small intestine disorders.

TREATMENT


The best treatment for a person with lactose intolerance is to avoid food items containing lactose. Some tablets of lactase are also available to take alongside food items that contain lactose. 


MANAGEMENT 


Living with lactose intolerance usually involves dietary modifications.

For example, you can replace milk with vegetables based milk or take a lactase capsule before ingesting any dairy product. 

Alternatively, you can consume lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk and dairy products.

Calcium deficiency is a serious side effect of lactose intolerance.So try to incorporate calcium rich foods in your diet.


HOMEOPATHIC MANAGEMENT


Homeopathic remedies can efficiently deal with lactose intolerance without causing and side effects and eliminating the tendency altogether. Some useful remedies are: Aethusa cynapium, apis, china, nat carb etc.


DO’S AND DON’TS


DO’S


Add lactose free alternatives of milk and milk products to your diet along with some supplements to avoid any nutrients deficiency.


DON’TS


Foods to avoid:

  Foods that commonly contain lactose including:

  • Milk
  • cakes and biscuits
  • cheese
  • cream 
  • bread
  • milk chocolate
  • Cereals
  • Instant soups
  • scrambled eggs

 

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