Disease Information for Lactose intolerance: Definition

  • The inability to digest or absorb lactose, a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products----------------------

    Glucose-galactose malabsorption; disaccharide deficiency II

    Lactose is a disaccharide that makes up around 2-8% of the solids in milk; Lactose is a disaccharide consisting of two subunits, a galactose and a glucose linked together; In the young of mammals, an enzyme called lactase is secreted by the intestinal villi, and this enzyme cleaves the molecule into its two subunits for absorption

    --------------------[Wikipedia website 2006]----------------

    Lactose intolerance, also called lactase deficiency, means you aren"t able to fully digest milk sugar (lactose) in dairy products; It"s not usually dangerous, but symptoms of lactose intolerance can be uncomfortable enough to steer you clear of the dairy aisles; Lactose intolerance can make dining a challenge, requiring some recipe substitutions or avoidance of some foods altogether; The problem underlying lactose intolerance is a lack of lactase — an enzyme produced by the lining of your small intestine; Lactase breaks down lactose so that it can be absorbed into your bloodstream; A deficiency of lactase leads to problems in breaking down and absorbing milk sugar; Some people who think they are lactose intolerant actually don"t have impaired lactose digestion; And not everyone with low levels of lactase is lactose intolerant; Only people with low lactase levels and symptoms are considered to have lactose intolerance; Intolerance to a food isn"t the same as a food allergy; Lactose intolerance doesn"t involve your immune system, as an allergy does, and doesn"t necessarily require complete avoidance of milk products; You can control symptoms of lactose intolerance through a carefully chosen diet that limits lactose without cutting out calcium, and possibly by taking supplements;The signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance usually begin 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods that contain lactose; Common signs and symptoms include: Diarrhea, which is the most common symptom; Nausea;Abdominal cramps;

    Bloating;and Gas; Symptoms are usually mild but may sometimes be severe; The severity of symptoms doesn"t correlate with the degree of lactose malabsorption; Instead, symptoms relate to a range of factors, including ethnicity, age and how fast you digest food; Lactose intolerance isn"t easily diagnosed by signs and symptoms alone; Many other conditions, including stomach flu and irritable bowel syndrome, can give you similar symptoms; In young children, diarrhea along with certain other symptoms may be a sign of milk protein allergy;

    -----------------[MAYO Clinic Website 2006]-----------