7 Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is when you have difficulty digesting milk products. Specifically, you have difficulty digesting lactose which is a sugar found in milk products. When milk products get to your small intestine a chemical called lactase releases to help digest lactose, but not everyone’s small intestine releases enough of this chemical. The severity of lactose intolerance can vary from person to person. Around 75% of the world’s population are suspected to be lactose intolerant. You’re more likely to experience lactose intolerance if you’re Asian, African, Native American, or Hispanic descent. Older people of all race are susceptible to lactose intolerance as well. People with certain digestive problems like celiac disease may develop lactose as well.

While not life threatening, it can cause discomfort and keep you from getting enough calcium in your diet. The following list of symptoms are provided to give you some insight on how lactose intolerance may affect you. Symptoms normally develop around 30 minutes to two hours after ingesting milk products. If you’re worried you might be lactose intolerant, it’s important to set up an appointment with your physician. Your physician can test if you’re lactose intolerant with a hydrogen breath test or with a blood sample. They can also help you make sure your diet contains food that will give you enough calcium in the event that you need to reduce milk products in your diet.

1. Abdomen Pain

The abdomen is located between the ribs and pelvis. Abdomen pain from lactose intolerance often happens in the middle to lower abdomen, around the belly button to the pelvis. The type of pain can vary from person to person. It can feel sharp, stabbing, dull, or cramp-like. It can give the impression of pressure like someone pushing on your abdomen or the feeling of needing to use the restroom. Abdominal pain in relation to lactose intolerance is often caused by the buildup of gases in the small intestine when the body fails to break down the lactose for digestion. Abdominal pain can be constant or come and go in waves.

The pain may be mild enough to just cause discomfort, but you may find yourself unable to find a comfortable position to sit or lie in. If the pain is related to lactose intolerance, you may find that the pain is somewhat alleviated when passing gas, belching, or having a bowel movement. In extreme cases, abdomen pain can cause vomiting. Lactose intolerance isn’t the only ailment to cause abdominal pain. If you have severe or persistent abdominal pain, you should seek medical attention immediately as it could be a sign of something serious.