The three major forms of sugar consumed by humans are glucose, fructose, and galactose. While glucose is the fuel for the body, providing energy to the body, fructose and galactose are first converted into glucose. A disaccharide (sugar complex made of two types of sugar), made of glucose and galactose, notorious for causing serious gastrointestinal distress in many people is called Lactose.
Cause- Lactose intolerance is the condition of the inability to digest lactose causing distress like diarrhea, gastritis, abdominal pain, and bloating. Lactose is available in the milk of most warm-blooded creatures. When we consume milk, it gets to the small intestine where it is broken down to glucose and galactose by an enzyme called lactase. As mammals, we have been wired to ingest and digest milk. But then, what causes intolerance later in life? After weaning, which is the period when infants switch from only milk to other foods, the gene that is responsible for the release of lactase is downregulated, and therefore the release of lactase goes way down. Low lactase release results in the body’s inability to break lactose down, which moves to the colon as it is. As much as 75% of lactose is passed to the colon. The microbes present in the colon ferment the lactose into hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane. Along with the gases, many short-chained fatty acids are formed, which the body cannot absorb. These elements disturb the osmotic pressure in the body which causes the body to release water into the bowels. Lactose Intolerance in infants is an extremely uncommon but serious issue. Babies born prematurely are more likely to develop lactase deficiency. Congenital lactase deficiency is a very rare gene-related disorder that can develop severe dehydration and weight loss.
Symptoms and diagnosis- The main symptoms of lactose intolerance include a lot of abdominal bloating and even abdominal cramping that can range in severity from mild to moderate to severe. Some people experience nausea or even diarrhea. Lastly, one of the more classic symptoms of lactose intolerance is painful gas. Lactose Intolerance can lead to a serious deficiency of calcium, vitamins, and many proteins. One of the best ways to help diagnose whether you have lactose intolerance is to keep a food diary. It is helpful to keep track of the types of foods that you eat and notice if they are causing any symptoms after you eat or after a while. You can track the symptoms just by going through the food diary. If you notice discomfort after having dairy products, you may be lactose intolerant. There are a couple of different tests that some of the best gastroenterologists perform to assist with diagnosing lactose prejudice. One of those tests is called a hydrogen breath test. Normally people have very little hydrogen in their breath but if your body is unable to digest lactose hydrogen builds up within the intestines and later can be found in the breath. Your doctor will give you a lactose-loaded drink and after a few hours be able to test the amounts of hydrogen in your breath. If the hydrogen level is still high after three to five hours, it tells your doctor that you are unable to digest lactose.
Treatment- Looking for the best gastroenterology hospital in Bangalore is the way to go as it is the prime location for treatments in India. For consultation for lactose Intolerance, the focus of treatment for lactose intolerance is to help manage your symptoms. You should be choosing foods that do not lead to symptoms. Dairy products like milk, cheese (soft cheese, mozzarella, cream cheese, and ricotta) butter, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, and whipped cream have high lactose content. Low traces of lactose are also found in prepared food products such as bread, processed meat, candies, chocolates, and most baked desserts. If you do choose to eat such food, you should eat them in smaller portion sizes and always make sure you eat them with other foods so that your body can digest them better. Nowadays milk or milk products are made lactose free or loaded with lactase to make these products consumable for lactose intolerants. Dairy milk can be substituted with almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, or rice milk. Another treatment for adults is lactase enzyme replacement. It comes in the form of pills or capsules that you can take a dose of when you first start to eat dairy products to help avoid lactose intolerance symptoms. You ought to counsel a specialist prior to utilizing these drugs.
Lactose intolerance developed after a viral illness or other diseases is temporary in nature. However, in most cases, Lactose Intolerance is a long-term, if not lifelong, condition and requires individuals to change their lifestyle and diet permanently.