Are you experiencing lactose intolerance?
Are you increasingly bloated or gassy (flatulent) and do you have cramping or diarrhea after drinking milk or eating dairy foods?
You might be developing lactose intolerance. Lactose is the sugar found in milk and other dairy foods. An enzyme in your intestines, called lactase, digests lactose. It breaks down lactose so your body can use it. If your body doesn’t make enough lactase, undigested lactose stays in the colon, which leads to these symptoms.
Lactose intolerance is more common in people of Asian, African and Native American ancestry. However, lactase levels also tend to decline with age. Lactose intolerance may also be caused by underlying gastrointestinal disease, surgery on the intestines or some medications.
You may have lactose intolerance if:
- You have symptoms after more than 2 servings of dairy a day — or more than 1 serving that is not associated with a meal.
- Your symptoms resolve after avoiding lactose-containing foods for 5-7 days but return when you resume eating dairy.
- Your symptoms are severe or persist despite a lactose-restricted diet. If this is the case, see your doctor.
Keep in mind that the amount of lactose that causes symptoms varies among individuals. Milk and foods made with milk also vary in how much lactose they contain.