If you are unable to digest milk and milk products you are likely to suffer from lactose intolerance. More than 68% of people encounter this issue and this is quite common.
To break apart the lactase molecules, there are lactase enzymes produced by our small intestine. However, if our body is not able to produce enough lactase enzymes, it leads to lactose intolerance as our body is not able to break down the milk sugar present in dairy products.
Some of the symptoms of lactose intolerance are:
- Stomach Pain
- Stomach rumbling
Milk allergy is a different form of lactose intolerance. The symptoms are irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance could be similar. But there can be many other factors which lead to irritable bowel syndrome. However, lactose intolerance is limited to the inability to digest milk and milk products.
You can experience the symptoms of milk intolerance within 30 minutes to 2 hours after the consumption of milk or milk products. These symptoms last up to 48 hours, till the milk remains in your digestive tracts.
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How long do lactose intolerance symptoms last?
Although, there are no such series implications associated with lactose intolerance. However, it leads to stomach discomfort. The severity of the issue is directly related to the amount of milk or milk product you have consumed. It takes almost 48 hours to get the milk completely out of your digestive system. As long as the milk lasts in your digestive tracts, the symptoms of lactose intolerance last.
Some of the symptoms for lactose intolerance are:
- Diarrhoea: Increased water retention due to undigested lactose ferments in your gut
- Bloating: Trapped gas and water in your intestine leading to the pain around your belly button
- Nausea: you can experience nausea up to 2 hours from the time you consumed milk
- Pain: As the gas is trapped due to undigested lactose present in your intestine, it pushes against the intestine wall leading to pain
How long do other food intolerance symptoms last?
Food allergies lead to stomach discomfort. Beside lactose intolerance, some of the common food intolerances are as follows:
- Gluten intolerance: When the body is not able to digest gluten, it leads to gluten intolerance. The symptoms of gluten intolerance can be notices within a few hours of eating gluten and can be encountered up to several days.
- Alcohol intolerance: You can experience the symptoms of alcohol intolerance in just 20 minutes of your first drink.
- IBS: The symptom of irritable bowel syndrome lasts for a few days to up to a month.
Food allergies or food intolerance is the result of the body’s inability to breakdown certain type of foods. It adversely affects the digestive system and can lead to a series of symptoms.
How long does lactose intolerance last?
Lactose intolerance lasts till the milk is in your digestive system, i.e. up to 48 hours. There is no treatment available to treat the lactose intolerance. As your body is deficient in production the lactose enzymes, no scientific way has been devised to elevate the production of lactose enzymes in your body.
There are lactose tablets available in the market which aids the digestion of dairy products in your body. However, these tablets do not assure you to relieve from the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
How to manage the lactose intolerance?
As lactose intolerance is incurable, you must know how to manage it in your day-to-day life to escape its symptoms. Here are some of the important tips to manage lactose intolerance:
Use probiotics: There are several types of research which support that including probiotics in your diet help reduce the lactose intolerance symptoms.
Lactase enzyme tablets: these tablets help increase the lactase enzyme production to breakdown the milk sugar and reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Lactose-free products; there are plenty of dairy products available which are lactose-free like soy milk, tofu etc.
Consume small portions; As lactose intolerance is the result of the body’s efficiency to produce enough lactose digestive enzymes, consuming small portions of dairy products helps reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Start with eating very small portions and notice the reaction of your body. Increase your portions gradually, if you do not experience any symptoms.
Choose wisely: There are dairy products like yoghurt, hard cheese and butter which are naturally low in lactose. Choose dairy products with low lactose to avoid lactose intolerance symptoms.
When should I consult a doctor?
As lactose intolerance is not a serious condition, it is not required to visit a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms associated with lactose intolerance. However, if you are experiencing extreme symptoms or want to confirm if your symptoms are associated with lactose intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome, it is advisable to visit the doctor.
Lactose intolerance test
It is a blood test under which your blood sample is taken at fasting glucose levels. Your glucose level is noticed and you are fed with lactose-containing liquid thereafter. Over the next few hours, your glucose levels are checked again. If the glucose level in your body remains constant, it indicates that your body is not able to break down the milk sugar and you are lactose intolerant.
Stool acidity test
This method is meant for children who cannot be tested through other methods. The acidity of the stool sample is tested to calculate the undigested lactose in the form of lactic acid.
Hydrogen Breath test
When you drink a high concentration of lactose, the fermented lactose in your gut releases extra hydrogen, if you are lactose intolerant. The doctor user takes the hydrogen test to measure the lactose intolerance level in your body.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for lactose intolerance symptoms to go away?
It takes 2 hours to 48 hours for lactose intolerance symptoms to go away. As long as the lactose remains in your digestive system, you are likely to encounter the lactose intolerance symptoms.
How long does it take to get dairy out of your system?
Depending on the quantity of dairy you have consumed, it may take up to 48 hours to get the dairy out of your system.
How do you treat lactose intolerance symptoms?
You can start with small quantities of dairy to understand the implications of dairy consumption and lactose intolerance. Add probiotics in your diet and rely on lactase enzyme production tablets.
Can lactose intolerance symptoms come and go?
Yes, over the period, the symptoms can change. It may even get better or go away with time gradually.
As long as the lactose remains in your body, you are likely to encounter the lactose intolerance symptoms like nausea, vomiting, bloating and stomach pain. It can last fro 2 hours to 48 hours depending on the amount of dairy you have consumed.
As dairy products are high in calcium, it is difficult to meet your dietary requirements related to calcium when you restrict your daily consumption. However, there are some other sources of calcium which you should include your diet to avoid calcium deficiencies such as:
- Beans & lentils
- Soy milk
- Kale and Spinach