Lactose intolerance: symptoms and how to detect it

The lactose intolerance or insufficient absorption of lactose is a condition that is becoming more and more visible. People who suffer from it are unable to digest the sugar contained in milk and that is why they feel some symptoms that appear immediately after having consumed a dairy product. However, not everyone knows how to detect it and what the most frequent symptoms are.

It is estimated that 70% of the world's population is lactose intolerant. It is important to emphasize that this condition not only affects adults, but also every year they are born babies with lactose intolerance.

On the other hand, this condition has no cure. Being caused by a lactase enzyme deficiencySome people may benefit from taking tablets before a meal that contains dairy products. However, the pills don't work for everyone. Fortunately, there are other milks that can be prepared and are suitable for them, such as almond or soy.

How do I know if I am lactose intolerant?

Most people find out that they have food intolerances such as lactose for the appearance of some symptoms after having consumed dairy products, such as milk, cheese or yogurt. These can appear between 30 minutes and 2 hours after eating or drinking foods that are high in lactose.

Some babies can also be lactose intolerant.

Lactose intolerance: symptoms

  • Nausea and / or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Stomach cramps
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Gases

What test is done to find out if you are lactose intolerant?

The doctor, before giving a diagnosis, will surely perform some studies to rule out or confirm this condition.

There are two studies that can define it: the blood test and the hydrogen breath test. Both are capable of measuring the capacity of the intestines to break down a type of sugar, which is precisely called lactose.

The hydrogen breath test is the preferred method. This method measures the amount of hydrogen in the air that the studied person exhales. The patient should breathe into a balloon-type container and then drink a flavored liquid that contains lactose. Respiration samples will be taken at predetermined time periods to check the hydrogen level.

Yogurt contains lactose.

Normally there is very little hydrogen in the breath, but if the body studied has trouble breaking down and absorbing lactose, the hydrogen levels in the breath will increase.

On the other hand, blood test looks for the presence of glucose in the blood, as the body produces glucose when lactose is broken down. For this test, several blood samples will be taken from a vein in the arm before and after the patient drinks a liquid that contains lactose. The results will be able to confirm the condition in a few hours.

How long do the symptoms of lactose intolerance last?

Symptoms can begin 30 minutes to 2 hours after the product was consumed, and they can last until the consumed product finishes its journey through the digestive system, that is, up to 48 hours later.

The severity can be mild or severe depending on the amount of dairy consumed. And, in addition, each person will suffer more symptoms than others and these will have different durations. Swelling in the abdomen usually takes the longest to recover.

Swollen abdomen is one of the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

What are the foods that contain lactose?

Food is divided into three broad categories:

  • Mammalian milk, such as cow, goat or sheep milk.
  • Derivatives of milk: cheese, butter or yogurt.
  • Foods made with milk: all those foods in which milk is used as an ingredient. They can be creams, desserts, sauces, ice creams, cakes, etc.

Other foods

Cream cakes or preparations also contain high levels of lactose.

Besides dairy products, there are also others that contain lactose but it is not always known. Some are:

-Meat preparations and sausages: All packaged meat, such as ground beef or hamburgers, has lactose as a preservative.

-Appetizers: mostly, potatoes or sweet potatoes with added flavors.

-Bread: especially packaged buns for hamburgers or hot dogs.

-Liqueurs: Although not many people know it, in some alcoholic beverages, such as rum, gin or whiskey, lactose is added during the distillation process.

-Medicines: Some tablets, such as anti-inflammatories, antidepressants and antibiotics, contain lactose to better preserve their properties.

Do you know any other symptoms of lactose intolerance? Share them in the comments!

Sources: Mayoclinic, Esalud, Medlineplus, Aiber

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