WHAT IS LACTOSE INTOLERANCE?
Most people in the world can't digest milk without diarrhea, discomfort, or gas. Usually, this is caused by lactose intolerance–an intolerance to the sugar that's in milk. Please note, if dairy makes you break out into a rash or vomit, you may be allergic to milk and not lactose intolerant.
What causes lactose intolerance?
At birth, it is important for babies to digest the lactose in breastmilk. As a result, every child has lactase enzymes which break down lactose. Lactose intolerance occurs when the lactase enzyme gradually fades away. By age 7 or 8, the lactase enzyme could stop working completely.
Why are some people lactose intolerant, and others are not?
Lactose intolerance is hereditary. For example, if you are lactose intolerant, usually one, or both of your parents are too. Furthermore, lactose intolerance usually affects people of certain heritages, such as African, Asian, Mediterranean, Central and South American.
Lactose intolerance in IBD
In IBD, damage to the upper part of the small intestine can tempoararily inactivate the lactase enzyme. Consequently, some people will become lactose intolerant when they develop IBD. However, after intestines heal, the lactase enzyme can function again. Unfortunately, for some, the intolerance may remain, or there may be others that aren't recognized yet.
This article, as well as all others, was reviewed and edited by a member of our Medical Advisory Board.
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