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Lactose IntoleranceConditions

Lactose intolerance happens when your body can't properly digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice cream. An enzyme called "lactase" usually breaks down lactose in your small intestine, allowing your body to absorb it. When you lack sufficient lactase, the undigested lactose travels to your colon, where it's digested by bacteria, leading to symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. While some people maintain sufficient lactase levels their whole lives, others might develop lactose intolerance. 


If you feel unwell after having dairy products—experiencing gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal discomfort—you might have lactose intolerance. Sometimes, these symptoms can appear a few hours or the next morning after eating dairy.  

If the diagnosis of lactose intolerance is unclear, we can do a breath test in the office that proves the disorder. During this non-invasive test, we ask you to consume a solution containing lactose, and then measure indirectly the ability of your body to break down the lactose by assessing the chemistry of the air you exhale during the next 90 minutes. 

Unfortunately, if you develop lactose intolerance, there's no way to fully restore the enzyme balance. However, you can manage this condition effectively. For most people, adjusting your diet is key. Limit your dairy intake and choose lactose-free or non-dairy alternatives like almond, coconut, or oat milk. Lactase enzyme supplements may help with digestion and symptoms. Not all dairy is created equal as far as lactose levels go and our dietitians can help adjust your diet according to your tolerance and preference. Remember, while consuming lactose might be uncomfortable, it won't cause any long-term harm to your intestines.