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Am I Lactose Intolerant? Here’s What You Need to Know

Woman suspects she suffers from lactose intolerance

Do you have issues with bloating or cramping when you eat milk or cheese? You could be among the millions of Americans living with lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder where people have a hard time breaking down lactose.

While lactose intolerance is not a deadly condition, but it  can cause significant discomfort and embarrassment–  especially if you consume dairy and didn’t realize you were lactose intolerant.

What Causes Lactose Intolerance?

This digestive disorder arises in the small intestine when it doesn’t produce enough lactase. This is an enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose (the sugar found in dairy products). Without lactase, your digestive system can’t process lactose.

Do I need to completely eliminate dairy products from my diet? While this can help you avoid bloating and nausea, it may not be necessary for you to avoid all dairy products. Lactose intolerance tends to affect people differently. We recommend trying an elimination diet to help identify your trigger foods.  This type of approach is also great for developing a new diet!

Why not get rid of dairy for good? Dairy provides key nutrients, such as calcium, that help build strong bones. However, if you have severe lactose intolerance and do need to avoid lactose altogether, there are other options for you to get the nutrients your body needs.

Lactose Intolerance Signs and Symptoms

You may find yourself wondering what type of symptoms lactose intolerance causes. Well we are here to help you out with that.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance are usually experienced between thirty minutes and two hours after consuming dairy products. If you suspect you are lactose intolerant, pay attention to any symptoms after having dairy, including:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Uncomfortable gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Belly aches

If you have noticed that you exhibit some of these symptoms after a glass of milk or eating some cheese, your body may be giving you a sign that you are lactose intolerant. Other signs that you may have an issue with lactose are:

  • You feel a lot better when you remove dairy from your diet for a while.
  • Your stomach becomes distended after consuming dairy products.
  • You find yourself visiting the bathroom more frequently shortly after lactose is ingested.

Make sure you are aware of what the signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance are. If you have noticed that you experience some of these symptoms, you may want to consult with your doctor about getting a diagnosis.

How to Test for Lactose Intolerance

So what should you do to see if you are lactose intolerant? There are several ways of testing how your body reacts to lactose that can help you identify if you have this condition and what dairy products you may want to avoid.

milk used to test lactose intolerance

A safe way to check for lactose intolerance at home is to perform an easy test with milk:

  • Eat an early dinner and do not consume any food after dinner.
  • Get between seven to eight hours of sleep.
  • For breakfast refrain from consuming anything other than a 8oz glass of milk.
  • Wait 3 hours before eating anything after breakfast.
  • See how your body reacts to the milk.

If you experience symptoms like bloating or cramping, you could be lactose intolerant. Talk with your doctor about getting a proper diagnosis. They may administer a hydrogen breath test. This measures the amount of hydrogen in your breath after consuming a lactose-rich drink.

If you have been diagnosed as lactose intolerant, be sure to talk with your doctor about creating a dietary plan suited to your condition.

Lactose Intolerance Clinical Research

At Achieve Clinical Research, we are conducting clinical studies on lactose intolerance. This research helps us learn more about this digestive disorder and test new treatments that will help people live a healthier, happier life.

physician screens patient for enrolling in a lactose intolerance clinical study

If you are interested in participating in a lactose intolerance clinical trial, please give us a call at (205) 757-8208, or use the contact form on the right hand side of this page.

How to Prevent or Reduce Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

The easiest way to avoid lactose intolerance symptoms is to avoid dairy products completely. If you remove dairy from your diet, we do recommend looking for other ways to get calcium from sources like:

  • Almonds
  • White Beans
  • Canned Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Dried Figs
  • Bok Choy
  • Kale
  • Blackstrap Molasses
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Oranges
  • Turnip Greens
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Seaweed
  • Instant Oatmeal

However, there are still options for lactose intolerant people who simply can’t give up on their favorite dairy products. Here’s where you should try the elimination diet to identify the foods that cause you the most discomfort. It may be possible to include some dairy in a meal here and there as long as you practice proper portion control

There are many methods for testing and managing your lactose intolerance. We encourage you to do your research and find what works best for you.

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