Anyone who is lactose intolerant knows that lactose is the sugar that can be found in milk and milk related products. Lactose intolerance is not an allergic reaction to lactose, but rather something your digestive system reacts to in an unpleasant way. Your immune system has nothing to do with it as some people may think. They may mistakenly think that lactose intolerance means they are allergic to milk when it is nothing of the sort.
There are actually about 45 million people in the US who are lactose intolerant. 60% of adults in the world experience symptoms that are lactose intolerant related . Compare these numbers to the 4% of people who are actually allergic to milk products. Many of the people who are lactose intolerant have symptoms so mild they never even realize they have a problem. They just chalk it up to indigestion issues on occasion. Levels of intolerance seem to vary, but often increase as a person ages due to illness, poor health in general, or even small intestine injuries or surgeries.
Symptoms vary from person to person. While one sufferer may only experience diarrhea, others may have the full spectrum of symptoms. Everything from gas and bloating, lower stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may be present. Some people actually think this is “normal” for them if they have been suffering from lactose intolerance for many years. They just never question it since their digestive system has always acted this way. So, how do you know? A check-up with your doctor is always advisable, but you can always do a ‘self-check’ by going on a dairy free diet for at least two weeks. If your symptoms subside or disappear entirely chances are you will have your answer and will know exactly what you have to do to maintain a better lifestyle.