Lactose Intolerance Specialists

Illinois Gastroenterology Group -  - Gastroenterology

Illinois Gastroenterology Group

Gastroenterology located in Oak Lawn, Oakbrook Terrace & Palos Heights, IL

Lactose intolerance is an incredibly common condition that’s estimated to affect 65% of all adults, causing diarrhea, gas, and other gastrointestinal problems. The doctors at Illinois Gastroenterology Group are experts in accurately diagnosing lactose intolerance and providing treatment that helps relieve your symptoms. To learn more about lactose intolerance, call one of the offices in Oak Lawn, Oakbrook Terrace, and Palos Heights, Illinois, or schedule an appointment online.

Lactose Intolerance Q & A

What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance occurs when you can’t digest lactose. Lactose is a natural sugar in milk. Before your small intestine can digest lactose, the sugar is split into smaller pieces using an enzyme called lactase. If you have a lactase deficiency, you can’t properly digest lactose. As a result, you develop symptoms when you consume too much milk or dairy products.

There are three types of lactose intolerance:

  • Primary Lactose Intolerance: Primary lactose intolerance develops in people whose genetic makeup slows down lactase production. The problem occurs gradually over the years, and by the time you’re an adult, you don’t have enough lactase to properly digest lactose.
  • Secondary Lactose Intolerance: Lactase is produced in your small intestine. When conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and bacterial overgrowth damage the small intestine and affect lactase production, you develop secondary lactose intolerance. In many cases, lactase production returns when the underlying health problem is treated.
  • Developmental Lactose Intolerance: This is a rare inherited condition in which babies are born without the ability to produce lactase.

What Symptoms Might I Develop Due to Lactose Intolerance?

While many adults have lactose intolerance and can still tolerate small to moderate amounts of milk and dairy products, others develop serious symptoms from the tiniest portion. When undigested lactose gets into your colon, you’ll experience symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Stomach pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting

Though they’re not painful or worrisome, you may also notice growling or rumbling sounds coming from your gastrointestinal tract.

How is Lactose Intolerance Diagnosed and Treated?

Your doctor at Illinois Gastroenterology Group reviews your symptoms and may then confirm your diagnosis by conducting a lactose tolerance test or a hydrogen breath test. In both tests you drink a lactose-containing beverage and then have a blood test or breathe into a device that detects hydrogen, depending on which diagnostic procedure you receive.

Since there aren’t any treatments available to boost lactase production, the only way to deal with lactose intolerance is to adjust your milk and dairy consumption. You may have to eliminate all milk from your diet if your intolerance is severe.

Most patients can tolerate some lactose by following these tips. For starters, consume very small portions of lactose-containing foods and beverages. Another good tip is to only consume milk and dairy products along with a regular meal. You may also want to try lactose-free products.

If you develop gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming milk, call Illinois Gastroenterology Group or schedule an appointment online.