Lactose Intolerance

Illinois Gastroenterology Group -  - Gastroenterology

Illinois Gastroenterology Group

Gastroenterology located in Arlington Heights, IL & Elk Grove Village, IL

A rumbling stomach, uncomfortable bloating, and embarrassing gassiness after eating dairy products are all common symptoms of lactose intolerance. It’s a common condition that affects millions of Americans. Fortunately, it’s easy to manage with help from the experts at Illinois Gastroenterology Group in Elk Grove and Arlington Heights, Illinois. To put the uncomfortable lactose intolerance symptoms behind you, call the office or book your appointment online now.

Lactose Intolerance Q & A

What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a condition in which you can’t properly process lactose, a type of sugar present in milk and milk products like cheese and ice cream. 

Your body naturally produces lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose, but if you don’t make enough lactase you’re unable to fully digest lactose. This leads to the uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance.

What are the Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance symptoms usually start shortly after you drink milk or eat milk products, but it can happen up to two hours afterward. Common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloated belly
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

The severity of your symptoms is often in direct proportion to how much lactose you ingested.

Why Do I Have Lactose Intolerance?

By far, the most common reason for lactose intolerance is normal aging. Nearly everyone makes sufficient lactase from the time they’re born, but that changes as you age.

By the time you enter adulthood, you produce considerably less lactase than you did as a child, which means you're less able to digest milk products. This is the reason that about 65% of the world population has some degree of lactose intolerance.

Another possible cause of lactose intolerance is underlying conditions affecting your gastrointestinal tract. You might develop this type of lactose intolerance, called secondary lactose intolerance, if you suffer from a condition like Crohn's disease.

Some children are born with the inability to make lactase, which is inherited from both parents. Congenital lactose intolerance is extremely rare.

Is Lactose Intolerance a Milk Allergy?

No. Lactose intolerance doesn’t mean you’re allergic to milk, but it does mean that milk is hard for you to digest. If you have a milk allergy, your body reacts violently to the protein in milk. A milk allergy is a far more threatening health issue than is lactose intolerance.

Milk allergies usually show up in infancy or the toddler years, and many children outgrow them. Lactose intolerance can develop at any point in life and often starts in adulthood. 

Symptoms of the two conditions can be similar, but symptoms of a milk allergy are typically far more severe and can include respiratory symptoms as well as gastrointestinal ones.

Your Illinois Gastroenterology Group doctor can differentiate between lactose intolerance and milk allergies and design an appropriate treatment plan for your problem.

How is Lactose Intolerance Treated?

Lactose intolerance is manageable with dietary changes. Your treatment plan can include:

  • Avoiding milk and milk products or eating them in moderation
  • Switching to reduced-lactose or lactose-free products
  • Taking lactase enzyme tablets or drops when eating milk products

Your Illinois Gastroenterology Group doctor can develop a symptom-relief plan for your needs. 

Use online booking or call the office of Illinois Gastroenterology Group nearest you for lactose intolerance help now.