Yes, lactose intolerance can occur at any time, any age. Though normally found in babies and children, the inability to tolerate any product containing lactose can happen quite suddenly, or gradually, over time. There are several factors which may cause this problem in adulthood. Getting older may bring about primary lactose intolerance, a condition that becomes more evident as people begin eating diets that contain little or no milk products, causing a decrease in lactase being made in their body. This is a very common occurrence.
There are several diseases involving the intestines that can lead to someone becoming lactose intolerant. One of the more common ones is inflammatory bowel disease. People with this problem become unable to consume lactose without suffering symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, and bloating after meals. Celiac disease is another intestinal problem that can cause all of the above symptoms. Fortunately, it is possible to reverse the effects and allow lactase levels to return to almost normal once the underlying cause is treated.
Having any type of surgery on your intestines can also bring about lactose intolerance, as well as having suffered an injury that involves the small intestines. If the intestines can’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase there are going to be problems until the situation is resolved. Treatment will depend on your underlying condition being taken care of by your physician. He or she will recommend definite diet changes and an avoidance of dairy products such as milk or yogurt until the healing process is complete. Not all lactose intolerant people are adults though. Children are subject to this malady also, but most of them will be lactose intolerant from birth due to inherited faulty genes. The situation may sometimes reverse itself if the small intestine begins producing enough lactase to cause the problem to subside.