Lactose Intolerance

Friday, September 03, 2010

A refreshing glass of milk or a delicious bowl of ice cream is very enjoyable. But for the estimated 30 to 50 million Americans who are lactose intolerant, these treats can cause some problems. Dr. Edward Hill takes a closer look at lactose intolerance in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Lactose intolerance occurs when the body cannot easily digest lactose, the kind of sugar found in milk and dairy products. This happens when the small intestine does not make enough of an enzyme called lactase.

When lactose moves through the large intestine without being properly digested, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, pain in the belly and bloating. Some people with lactose intolerance cannot digest any milk products while others can digest small amounts of milk products without problems.

Lactose intolerance is common in adults. The biggest challenges for people who are lactose-intolerant are learning what to eat to avoid discomfort, and getting enough calcium to maintain healthy bones.

Your doctor can make sure that your symptoms are caused by lactose intolerance and not by another problem.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance, but symptoms can be treated by reducing or avoiding consumption of milk products, using dietary supplements that help digest lactose, or consuming milk products with reduced lactose.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.