What is la lactose?: It is the main type of sugar found in milk.
What if lactase?: An enzyme found in the small intestine that specifically absorbs lactose sugar.
What is lactose intolerance?: It is the small intestine’s incapacity or deficiency to digest or absorb lactose sugar.
Why does it occur?: When there is a decrease or lack of the lactase enzyme in the small intestine, lactose sugar cannot be absorbed at the colon. In the colon, the sugar is fermented by the intestinal flora, which results in gases that are responsible for most symptoms.
What are the symptoms?: Abdominal distension, flatulencies, colic or abdominal cramps and, in severe cases, diarrhea and gases.
Aside from lactose intolerance, are there any other related conditions? Yes.
1-Desease in the small intestine such as sprue celiaco.
2-Viral gastroenterocolitis which causes temporal intolerance to lactose
3- Patients who have been gastrectomized might show this syndrome.
How is diagnosis performed?
1- The easiest way is through a temporal suspension of all lactose food. If the patient improves, this confirms the diagnosis.
2- Hydrogen breath test: Gas has hydrogen that is absorbed and exhaled through the breath.
3- The patient takes 100 g of lactose and the blood glucose is measured after 30-60 and 120 minutes. If the lactose was not absorbed by the small intestine, glycemia will not increase (sugar in the blood).
4- To measure the feces acidity, which is another consequence of the lactose bacterial fermentation. It is not very practical though.
What is the treatment?
1- To avoid the intake of lactose: milk, cheese, butter. To keep in mind that many byproducts, such as cookies, have milk.
2- There is some products that have small quantities of lactose: bread, pie, margarine, canned soup, and medicine.
3- To take the lactase enzyme before taking lactose. In the market, they come in drops, capsules or pills. Dose depends on the quantity of lactose taken and the degree of deficiency.
4- For children, who need calcium a lot, some products are found:
a- Soy products that offer the proteins found in milk and calcium, without lactose.
b- Hydrolyzed milk, warming a process that retain the nutrients found in milk and diminishes the amount of lactose.