Lactose Intolerance – 5 Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

Here are five key symptoms that could indicate you have lactose intolerance…

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products. It’s estimated that around 1 in 10 people have some degree of lactose intolerance. Understanding the symptoms can help you manage this condition better. Here are five key symptoms that could indicate you have lactose intolerance…

1. Abdominal Bloating and Pain

One of the most common symptoms of lactose intolerance is experiencing bloating and pain in the abdomen. This discomfort usually starts about 30 minutes to two hours after consuming dairy products. The bloating is caused by the fermentation of lactose in the intestines, producing gases like hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane.

2. Diarrhoea

Lactose that isn’t properly digested can lead to an increased fluid movement in the colon, resulting in loose stools or diarrhoea. This symptom is particularly noticeable if you consume a large amount of dairy.

3. Gas and Flatulence

As undigested lactose ferments in the large intestine, it produces gas. This can lead to an uncomfortable feeling of fullness, along with noticeable flatulence. It’s a common symptom among those with lactose intolerance.

4. Nausea and Vomiting

In some cases, consuming lactose can cause nausea, which may be accompanied by vomiting. This happens as the body tries to expel the undigested lactose.

5. Audible Bowel Sounds

Increased bowel sounds, also known as borborygmi, are a less talked about but common symptom of lactose intolerance. These sounds are caused by the movement of fluid and gas in the intestines.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms regularly after consuming dairy products, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional. They can perform diagnostic tests, such as a hydrogen breath test, to confirm whether you have this condition. Managing lactose intolerance typically involves dietary changes, such as reducing or eliminating lactose-containing foods, and may include taking lactase enzyme supplements. Remember, each individual’s tolerance to lactose can vary, and a gut specialist can help tailor a plan that’s right for you.

Medically Reviewed By:
Rajnish Mankotia Colorectal Surgeon
How we reviewed this article

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