Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is a condition affecting over 40 million Americans where the body is unable to digest the sugars in milk, or lactose, and other dairy products. Eating dairy products typically results in gas, bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain, and occasionally vomiting in someone suffering from lactose intolerance. Some cases are mild and result in only mild symptoms, while others have severe reactions to even small amounts of lactose.
Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not produce enough lactase, the enzyme necessary for the breakdown of lactose. While there is no current cure for lactose intolerance, there are digestive supplements that may aid in the breakdown of lactose and digestion of dairy products.
Tests for Lactose Intolerance
To determine if you have lactose intolerance, your physician will do a complete medical exam. Your doctor may also perform a Hydrogen breath test where you will be given a solution to drink that contains lactose, and you will breathe into a machine which measures the breath for hydrogen, indicating lactose intolerance. Another test includes a blood test every 30 minutes for two hours to determine the levels of blood sugars after drinking a solution containing lactose. This test is not performed on those with diabetes.
One of the biggest challenges for those with lactose intolerance is ensuring that they are getting enough calcium, as dairy is a primary source for calcium in our diets. Besides dairy, foods high in calcium include broccoli, kale, collards and turnip greens as well as sardines, tuna and salmon. Calcium-fortified foods like cereals, soy milk and tofu also contain calcium.