This post is also available in: French
Are you tired of feeling terrible after eating cheese or having a bowl of cereal? When your body acts unusual, it’s probably trying to tell you something. You might have bloating from lactose intolerance that happens when your small intestine can’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase to help your body digest lactose.
Stomach bloating from lactose intolerance
Sometimes you can feel bloated for no reason. Or, it could be your period. But if it’s happening regularly and you’re not sure why, the reason could be lactose intolerance.
While dairy is a healthy food, it’s also gas-producing, and so it can cause your stomach to puff out. Thus, avoiding or cutting down how much milk and other dairy you consume can help alleviate this discomfort.
While you might be thinking it’s an “allergy” to milk, the reality is that it’s a low amount of lactase, which breaks down sugar in milk. Without enough of the enzyme, milk travels throughout the digestive system whole through the digestive system and pulls water into the gut. That explains the bloating and other feelings of uneasiness.
If you are unsure about what is causing the bloating, see your doctor right away as it could be due to a number of other issues, such as indigestion, pregnancy, smoking, or even liver disease. If you are interested in becoming a physician or nurse, click to learn more about educational requirements.
Other signs of lactose intolerance
Having gas is another common symptom. The fermentation of lactose in the colon leads to the production of the gases hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane. How much gas an individual produces will differ, although what they share is that there is no associated smell.
Additional symptoms of an intolerance that you may experience are constipation, headaches, eczema, and tiredness. See your doctor if you think that you have the issue.
It’s also important to note that the severity of the mentioned signs can vary from person to person. Among the factors that affect the level of discomfort include how much dairy was consumed and the sensitivity of the individual. Certain foods contain more lactose than others. Thus, you might have mild symptoms, while another person has severe pain.
But, wait, you say, “I haven’t had dairy in ages!” Ah, but there are many foods that you might not realize have lactose in them. While milk, cheese, butter, and ice cream are obvious sources, other foods may contain hidden lactose that is added during processing.
A few surprising examples of foods that contain dairy are medications, chewing gum, baking mixes, a range of frozen foods, salad dressings, and processed meats. Even some potato chips use lactose within the flavoring.
Is the bloating from lactose intolerance?
Doctors often diagnose this condition using the hydrogen breath test. If you are asked to take this test, you will consume 1.8 ounces of lactose and be analyzed for an elevated amount of hydrogen on your breath. That increased level occurs when bacteria ferments lactose in the colon.
Interestingly, about 20 percent of those who have the condition won’t show a positive result on the hydrogen breath test. Also, patients can test positive without having yet shown any signs of being unable to properly digest lactose.
Does that mean you have to cut out yummy foods?
No. Some people can handle a small amount of dairy without experiencing any symptoms. But, what matters is finding out what amount works for you. Getting a hydrogen breath test from your doctor is the first step toward determining if your discomfort is one of the signs of lactose intolerance.
Your doctor will likely create a custom treatment plan for you that involves reducing or completely removing foods with lactose from your diet, depending on your sensitivity. Thankfully, there are artisanal meat products that are lactose-free. Also, soy cheeses, seafood (tun, salmon, clams…) as well as soybean and tofu products, all can be part of your no-lactose diet.
There are many dairy-free recipes available online too. You’re not alone in dealing with this condition, but you do need to be aware of what you’re ingesting or you face continued discomfort, including bloating.
This post is also available in: French