Lactose intolerance is said to be often misdiagnosed, which means that it is a condition that is often mistaken for something else. You may be suffering from it, but it’s not unlikely for your doctor to think otherwise.
So what is lactose intolerance exactly? Someone who has it lacks an enzyme in the small intestine called lactase, which is necessary for the digestion of lactose — a type of sugar found exclusively in milk and various dairy products. The consumption of anything that contains lactose will result in all sorts of digestive issues as well as problems affecting other areas of the body, typically within 30 minutes to a couple of hours after ingesting the culprit.
Experts say that about 75 percent of the world’s population (millions of them diagnosed with lactose intolerance) does not have enough lactase in their small intestines to some degree, making their bodies inefficient in digesting lactose.
However, somebody who is lactose intolerant may still be able to tolerate a certain amount of milk and dairy products. It all depends on how quickly a person develops the classic symptoms as well as how severe they are. For instance, a person with lactose intolerance may react more negatively and quickly to a small amount of lactose than another person who also has the said digestive condition.
Do you suspect that you are lactose intolerant? Here are some signs that may reveal you actually are:
Diarrhea That Lasts for Several Days
Experts say that you may have lactose intolerance if you suffer from diarrhea for 5 days or more after consuming foods with lactose in them. Sometimes there may be blood present, too. In some cases, the stools are black in color and may leave you in pain while passing them.
You may also have the digestive condition if you feel discomfort or pain in the belly area a few minutes after eating milk or dairy products. Such symptom is blamed for the excess gas produced in the gut because of its inability to properly digest lactose. When there’s too much gas in the intestines, you can be sure that both cramping and bloating are present as well. There are times, too, when stomach pain is accompanied by vomiting.
Persistent Weakness and Fatigue
Most people would think that the symptoms of lactose intolerance are limited to the digestive system. However, this is not at all true. People with lactose intolerance often feel weak and fatigue for several days after consuming foods containing lactose. Oh, and others have persistent fever, too.
Digestive Problems Disappear After Avoiding Dairy
It’s very much likely that you are intolerant to lactose if you attain relief from various digestive issues after turning your back on lactose-containing foods. According to experts, it’s a good idea for you to stop consuming milk and other dairy goods for 1 to 2 weeks. If all the symptoms go away, lactose intolerance may be the problem.
Being a Member of a Particular Racial Group
Experts say that most people develop some form of lactose intolerance as they age. However, age is not the only risk factor. It is said that you are very much likely to have the digestive condition if you are Asian, Hispanic, Native American or African-American. Experts add that lactose intolerance is also common among some indigenous people.
Have Had a Recent Digestive Issue
It is possible for you to have a temporary bout of lactose intolerance after suffering from a problem concerning the digestive system, such as stomach flu or celiac disease. That’s because these issues can cause the intestinal lining to end up inflamed, making your body inefficient in processing or unable to digest lactose in milk and dairy products. But once the inflammation goes away, lactose intolerance disappears, too.