A lot of people display lactose intolerance symptoms and these are very similar to those experienced by Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers.
In fact, a lot of sufferers don’t even realise they are intolerant, but cutting this complex sugar out of your diet can make a big difference to some.
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It is a complex carbohydrate or sugar found in milk and dairy products.
The symptoms that most sufferers experience is due to the lack of an enzyme in the gut known as lactase which normally breaks down carbohydrate in to more easily digestible sugars such as glucose or galactose.
If the enzyme isn’t working or only partially working, the body loses the sugar in the gut and this can give rise to a whole multitude of different problems.
Bacteria in the gut ferment the sugar which can exacerbate symptoms. Also, the body doesn't get enough sugar required for the bodies energy and metabolism.
I have already mentioned lactose intolerance symptoms can be very similar to IBS. These may include:
So, can you become lactose intolerant? To answer this you need to know a bit more about the condition.
There are two main forms of intolerance. The first is primary or congenital lactase deficiency where the person is born without the lactase enzyme. This is quite a rare condition and is usually picked up in babies when they fail to thrive.
More commonly there is secondary or adult onset. In this condition, the symptoms occur over a period of years as the enzyme in the gut becomes less efficient at handling the lactose sugar in your diet.
So, in answer to the question “can you become intolerant”, the answer is yes and no. You either have the propensity to get it or you don’t, but it develops over time although rarely in those under 7 years of age.
Intolerance can commonly be associated with other bowel conditions too.
I have already mentioned IBS, but can occur with most other forms of bowel diseases including celiac disease, Inflammatory bowel diseases, previous intestinal surgery and bowel infections such as giardiasis.
Now that you think you may have the condition you need to know how intolerance is diagnosed. The answer to this is through the use of a lactose tolerance test.
This test challenges you with lactose to see if you have the condition. Its an easy test and can be done in the doctors office or even at home.
A simple home test is to starve yourself for 4 hours, then either take in a couple of tablespoonfuls of lactose or 1/2 pint of milk. Don't have any other foods or drinks for a few hours.
If in that time you develop increasing symptoms it is almost certain that you have the condition.
There is no drug treatment for lactose intolerance symptoms. The only treatment is through a change in your diet by avoiding dairy milk and products.
You can learn more about a typical diet here.
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