Diseases & Conditions
Easy-to-understand answers about diseases and conditions
Lactose intolerance is characterized by an inability to fully digest the sugar (lactose) present in milk, resulting in gastrointestinal discomfort. Following consumption of dairy products, individuals experience symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and gas. This condition, known as lactose malabsorption, typically poses no serious health risks; however, its manifestations can be distressing. The primary cause of lactose intolerance is insufficient production of an enzyme called lactase in the small intestine. Lactase is responsible for breaking down lactose, enabling its proper digestion. While some individuals may have lower lactase levels and still manage to process milk products without issue, a marked deficiency in lactase can lead to lactose intolerance. Consequently, consuming dairy triggers adverse symptoms, underscoring the importance of proper enzymatic activity for lactose digestion. Colon and Small Intestine Function Within your digestive system, the small intestine and colon play essential roles. These components facilitate the digestion of the food you consume, extracting nutrients from it. While the intestines absorb vital nutrients, any unabsorbed content progresses through the digestive tract and eventually exits the body as stool during a bowel movement. Effective Management of Lactose Intolerance For many individuals with lactose intolerance, it’s possible to effectively manage the condition without completely eliminating all dairy products from their diet.