Lactose Intolerance in Illinois
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What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is a common condition among adults and children in the United States. Your body can be intolerant to lactose (the main carb in milk and dairy products) because it doesn't produce enough lactase (an enzyme produced in the small intestine) to break it down.
While lactose intolerance is a harmless condition, it can create discomfort when eating dairy based on your body's level of intolerance. This is why some people refer to lactose intolerance as a "dairy allergy."
For more information about lactose intolerance from a GI specialist, contact your nearest Chicago, IL, Peoria, IL, or Bloomington, IL, GI Alliance of Illinois location to request a consultation.
What causes lactose intolerance?
An individual becomes lactose intolerant when their body is not able to produce or does not produce enough lactase. There could be two reasons why the body doesn't produce enough lactase in order to break lactose down:
Primary Lactose Intolerance
Primary lactose intolerance is the most common type of lactose intolerance we see and is due to the age of the patient. Generally, the older you get, the less your body produces lactase. Primary lactose intolerance can be passed on genetically and often affects more Africans and Asians (60 – 80%), and Hispanic people, (50%) than Europeans (5 – 17%) and Americans (44%).
Secondary Lactose Intolerance
Secondary lactose intolerance often occurs when the small intestine is impaired because of an illness, surgery, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or another serious issue. When the small intestine becomes inflamed, lactase production naturally decreases. Treating the original disorder may restore small intestine function and lactase levels.
To learn about primary lactose intolerance, secondary lactose intolerance, and how our GI specialists can help you find relief, contact your nearest Illinois location.
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance symptoms can vary from person to person depending on the amount of lactase they produce. Some common symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps
If you experience any of the symptoms above and suspect it could be due to lactose intolerance, the skilled providers at GI Alliance of Illinois can help.
What are the treatments for lactose intolerance?
If you are lactose intolerant, the best course of action is to avoid dairy products in general. There is no way, at this time, to increase lactase production in the body. Therefore, it's best to avoid dairy products and think of it as if you have an allergy to dairy.
Other solutions may include:
- Lactase enzyme supplements
- Pro and prebiotics
- Build lactose tolerance by adding small amounts of dairy into each meal
- Consume lactose-reduced dairy products
Alleviate your symptoms with expert care
If you or a loved one avoids dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt due to discomforting aftereffects, meeting with a skilled GI specialist may be helpful. The GI specialists at GI Alliance of Illinois are here to help you create a treatment plan that will allow you to improve your quality of life and manage lactose intolerance. For more information on lactose intolerance in Illinois, contact your nearest location to request a consultation.
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