Discovering Lactose Intolerance: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Dietary Advice

Discovering lactose intolerance: symptoms, diagnosis, dietary advice

There are things that delight the palate, such as a slice of fresh cheese on bread, a cloud of cream on strawberries, a bowl of fruit yogurt for breakfast, a margherita pizza with a generous layer of fibrous mozzarella to enjoy with friends.

But if after eating them you feel any unwanted ailment, it is possible that you are intolerant to lactose, a sugar present in milk and derivatives belonging to the category of so-called FODMAPs, composed of galactose and glucose.

Find out in six easy steps.

Step one: interrogate your system

The gastrointestinal, of course: therein lies a first answer.

The digestive system rebels every time you eat milk and dairy products and sends out specific signals such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, bloating and flatulence? Are these symptoms even accompanied by fatigue, headache, or rashes or can ulcers form in the mouth?

Contact your doctor to investigate possible causes: a lactose intolerance, of course, but also a food allergy, for example to milk proteins.

Step Two: Evaluate Reaction Time

Watch how long it takes your body to send a signal of discomfort from eating foods that contain lactose. After half an hour and in about two hours? Do the symptoms persist for hours, even days?

Another confirmation that you may be lactose intolerant; if, on the contrary, the reaction occurs very quickly, after a few minutes of eating a potentially harmful food, it is more likely that it is an allergy to milk protein.

Third step: discover the differences between allergy and food intolerance

The difference between the two phenomena is substantial, and knowing it will help you better handle the problem.  Lactose intolerance is stimulated by the total or partial absence of an enzyme, lactase, which has the function of digesting milk sugar. It is this enzyme, present in abundant amounts in children and produced by the small intestine under the impulse of a specific gene, that allows infants and young children to eat milk.

Then, with advancing age, lactase production decreases, sometimes being insufficient to ensure complete digestion of lactose ingested with food.

This is why intolerance problems may arise, which may appear unexpectedly even in adulthood (primary lactase deficiency) due to a more marked reduction in enzyme activity, or turn into acquired intolerance (secondary lactase deficiency lactase) induced by problems like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, rotavirus infections, chemotherapy treatments.

In lactose intolerance there is no involvement of the immune system, but it participates in the case of allergic reactions to milk proteins.

 Hence the appearance, in allergic subjects, of gastrointestinal reactions similar to those of intolerance, even after ingestion of a small amount of the “harmful” substance.

Reactions that emerge quickly, however, a few minutes after the introduction of lactose into the body.

Step Four: Do the Diagnostic Tests

Suspicions alone are not enough to say that you are lactose intolerant, they must be confirmed with specific and appropriate diagnostic tests: two tests, the only scientifically validated, the H2-Breath test (or breath test) and the test genetic.

All other possible alternative diagnostic solutions, of any nature and to any organ to which they are directed, should be avoided because they lack a scientific basis.

Step Four: Do the Diagnostic Tests

Suspicionsalone are not enough to say that you are lactose intolerant, they must be confirmed with specific and appropriate diagnostic tests: two tests, the only scientifically validated, the H2-Breath test (or breath test) and the test genetic.

All other possible alternative diagnostic solutions, of any nature and to any organ to which they are directed, should be avoided because they lack a scientific basis.