Siamak Tabib (Gastroenterologist, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA) gives expert video advice on: How is lactose intolerance treated? and more...
What is "lactose intolerance"?
Lactose intolerance is a condition where we lack a specific enzyme, or protein, to break down sugar called lactose. This enzyme, or protein, we refer to as lactase. Our small intestine generally has cells along with a reaction that generally takes place that produces this enzyme. This enzyme is needed to break down lactose sugar because if this lactose sugar is not broken down, it can be a very strong laxative and cause a lot of abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea for people who have lactose intolerance.
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
The symptoms of lactose intolerance generally center around abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating and discomfort, usually after eating or drinking dairy products. Most dairy products, such as milk, butter and ice cream, have a tendency to exacerbate the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
How is lactose intolerance treated?
Lactose intolerance is treated by a variety of means. One is to avoid lactose containing products, or to go on a dairy free diet. Most of us like a lot of dairy products, and dairy products are very good sources of calcium, vitamins, and protein that our body requires. So, in order to treat lactose intolerance, but be able to eat some of these or drink some of these dairy products, one can either take over the counter available Lactaid tablets for when they eat ice cream or when they drink a glass of milk, or there are other products on the market such as Lactaid type dairy products or Lactaid milk, which do not have the specific sugar that causes symptoms of lactose intolerance, or even have the lactase enzyme already added to break down this sugar, in order not to have symptoms from lactose intolerance.