How to Relieve Lactose Intolerance Pain
Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency in the lactase enzyme, which breaks down the sugar in dairy foods. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, gas, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea.
Undigested lactose ferments in the gut, causing pain and leading to the production of gas that puts pressure on the abdominal muscles.
While lactose intolerance pain is usually not serious, it can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and other serious digestive conditions. It’s important to seek medical attention when you start experiencing lactose intolerance symptoms.
How Do You Know If You are Lactose Intolerant?
Lactose intolerance is a condition that develops when the body is unable to digest lactose, the sugar in milk and other dairy products.
This is caused by a deficiency in an enzyme called lactase, which is responsible for breaking down these sugars.
Undigested lactose can build up in the stomach and cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain
If you develop any of these symptoms — especially after consuming foods or drinks containing lactose — there is a good chance that you might have an intolerance.
The best way to know for sure is to have a lactose intolerance test done. This helps you to determine to what extent your body can digest lactose.
Why Does Lactose Intolerance Cause Pain?
Lactose intolerance causes pain and discomfort because the undigested substances in your gut start fermenting. This leads to the production of gas that slowly builds up in your stomach.
If the body fails to release the gas, it can put pressure on the abdominal muscles, which causes bloating, cramps, and pain.
Undigested lactose can also draw water into the intestines, increasing the risk of diarrhea and irregular stools.
How Do You Treat Pain Caused by Lactose Intolerance?
There are several ways to treat lactose intolerance pain. Let’s take a closer look at what those are.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications — such as lactase enzyme tablets and supplements — can be effective in reducing lactose intolerance symptoms.
Your doctor may also recommend anti-diarrheal medications or pain relievers to help you manage your discomfort.
If you require prescription medication, your lactose intolerance should be diagnosed by a professional who can then make treatment recommendations.
Natural remedies like probiotics, ginger, and peppermint can also help relieve pain caused by lactose intolerance.
These remedies are typically aimed at soothing the stomach lining and improving gut flora to aid digestion.
Over time, natural remedies may also reduce inflammation associated with lactose intolerance flare-ups.
Is Lactose Intolerance Pain Serious?
While lactose intolerance pain can be uncomfortable, it’s usually not a serious condition.
However, if left untreated, lactose intolerance can lead to more severe symptoms like dehydration and malnutrition.
Persistent lactose intolerance pain may also indicate other serious conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or celiac disease.
These conditions should be treated by a professional to avoid long-term health complications in future.
If you experience any lactose intolerance-related symptoms, speak to your doctor as soon as possible to help you get the right treatment.
Can Lactose Intolerance Pain be Prevented?
Although there is no way to cure lactose intolerance, there are a few things that you can do to manage symptoms.
One of the most effective ways to prevent lactose intolerance pain is to make dietary changes.
This may involve avoiding foods that contain a high amount of lactose — like milk and cheese. You can also substitute these foods with lactose-free options.
For example, you can swap milk products with a dairy-free option like oat or soy milk. Coconut yogurt is also a great substitute for regular yogurt.
Lactase supplements may be effective in preventing discomfort because it improves the body’s digestive abilities.
Taking lactase supplements before consuming lactose-rich foods can help reduce the risk of intolerance symptoms afterward.
It’s recommended that you speak to your health care provider before taking these supplements to ensure that they meet your specific needs.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in your gut and are essential for maintaining a digestive system that functions normally.
If you have sufficient good bacteria, your body may have an easier time digesting foods that contain lactose without triggering uncomfortable symptoms.
You can consume probiotics through fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut or by taking a supplement.
At your local pharmacy, you can find effective probiotic supplements that contain the following strains:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
- Streptococcus salivarius
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Streptococcus thermophilus