If you are one of the 30 to 50 million Americans living with lactose intolerance, biting into a mouthwatering slice of cheesy pizza, or downing a frosty-cold milkshake may just be nothing more than a fleeting idea. The nasty discomforts associated with the condition often make you rethink whether your favorite food is really worth all the trouble—and it’s time to visit your doctor.
While there’s currently no known cure for lactose intolerance, talking to your doctor about it remains your best bet. Below, you’ll learn the specific reasons you should consider seeing a doctor about lactose intolerance.
Better Management of Distressing Symptoms
Lactose intolerance develops when your small intestine is unable to produce enough of a digestive enzyme referred to as lactase to digest lactose (milk sugar).
When you’re deficient in lactase, lactose from the food you eat, instead of getting processed and absorbed in your small intestine, passes into your colon. Bacteria then break down the undigested lactose, resulting in the signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance.
While lactose intolerance is not dangerous in itself, it brings on symptoms that can be downright distressing. These include the following:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Stomach cramps
Your doctor can help you avoid these problems. They will first review your symptoms and possibly recommend a lactose intolerance or hydrogen test to confirm a diagnosis. Once lactose intolerance is confirmed, your doctor may then devise a management strategy, which can include the following to help you keep all the discomforts at bay:
- Taking lactase (enzyme) supplements
- Eating smaller portions of dairy products and buffering their effects with crackers or high-grain cereals or breads
- Reading food labels to look for lactose-containing ingredients (Hotdogs and ham contain lactose as do many salad dressings and chocolates.)
- Getting essential calcium from non-lactose food sources, such as broccoli and sardines
Talk to your doctor right away if your symptoms continue unabated despite following their dietary recommendations, as this could indicate there’s a problem that warrants further evaluation.
Avoiding Complications with Proper Intervention
Milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients. Being intolerant to this entire food group can make you deficient in these nutrients, putting you at an increased risk for these conditions:
- Osteopenia – This condition is characterized by very low bone-mineral density. Over time, it can lead to osteoporosis.
- Osteoporosis – This is a severe weakening of your bones, so much so that you can break them even with just doing harmless movements like sneezing.
- Malnutrition – This is when your body gets severely deprived of all the nutrients it needs to function properly. It can lead to muscle weakness, paresthesia, impaired cognitive function, and, in severe cases, coma.
Aside from the strategies above, your doctor may give you a referral to a dietitian and/or gastroenterologist to help efficiently manage your condition and lower your risk for complications:
Lactose Intolerance Testing and Treatment in Garfield, NJ
Millions of Americans have some degree of lactose intolerance. Fortunately, with accurate testing and smart diet management strategies, many people are able to live well with their condition.
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of lactose intolerance, find out for sure what’s happening in your body. Call us here at My Doc Urgent Care at (862) 295-3501 for an appointment, or simply walk in. One of our physicians will gladly perform the necessary tests and connect you to the appropriate interventions.