In this article you will learn all about the most common symptoms of lactose intolerance, also known as lactase deficiency and hypolactasia. What this is, is a lack of ability to digest the sugar found in milk; lactose.
People who suffer from this usually do not have the enzyme that is required to breakdown lactose. This enzyme is lactase which helps one to digest lactose. When lactose cannot be digested it results in the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Lactose intolerance is not restricted to humans as most mammals experience it in their younger years. It is so common in adult humans that there is an estimated amount of persons worldwide exceeding 75% of the population that have lactose intolerance. African and Asian countries tend to be the ones with the majority of the cases of lactose intolerance.
So how can you tell if you are lactose intolerant? There are quite a number of symptoms but the primary ones include; abdominal pain, diarrhea and flatulence.
Symptoms that exist with less frequency include abdominal bloating, abdominal distention, vomiting, nausea, malnutrition and weight loss. Let me now define each so that you can clearly identify them when onset begins.
9 Common Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance
- #1. Abdominal pain – this refers to localized pain or cramps in the area below your navel.
- #2. Diarrhea is constituted by watery and sometimes frothy and bulky stool with frequent reoccurrences.
- #3. Flatulence is the passing of gas that is caused by the bacteria. The odor that accompanies the gas is caused by H2S.
- #4. Abdominal bloating occurs due to the fact that gases are being formed and are expanding due to the warm conditions that are found in the digestive system.
- #5. Abdominal distention is like bloating but with a visible increase in the size of one’s belly.
- #6. Vomiting is the forceful emission of stomach contents through the mouth.
- #7. Nausea gives a general feeling of discomfort in the head and belly and gives a person the inclination to vomit.
- #8. Weight loss is self-explanatory.
- #9. Malnutrition occurs after long periods of diarrhea and vomiting which causes deficiency of nutrients and vitamins.
These symptoms of lactose intolerance are not only common to lactose intolerance, so those by themselves should not be used as a diagnosis. Instead you should visit your doctor and relate the symptoms to them for them to do further investigations to rule out other possible causes of these symptoms.
With lactose intolerance the symptoms are caused when the lactose which is not absorbed goes through the small intestines and into the colon. Here is where lactase would break down the lactose so that the body can use it.
There is a lactase containing bacteria in the colon which splits some of the lactose into galactose and glucose. The bacterium also releases hydrogen gas when it splits the lactose, when the gas is absorbed through the colon into the body it causes all sort of problems.
It is expelled in your breath and some of it is used up by other bacteria in the colon.
This is what causes the increased gas some people not only excrete hydrogen but also methane both in their flatulence and in their breath. The lactose that does not split causes water to enter into the colon via osmosis and hence you end up with loose stools which we know as diarrhea.
People suffer from lactose intolerance at different levels. Some can still consume items with lactose but in small amounts and have no symptoms while others cannot have any type of lactose containing food.