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Gastroenterology clinic

Dealing with lactose intolerance

Katherine Ellard

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Abstract

The diagnosis of lactose intolerance should be considered in patients with ongoing gastrointestinal symptoms. This article provides some simple ways to diagnose and manage the condition.

Article Extract

Remember
  • Lactose intolerance should be considered in a patient complaining of abdominal bloating, pain, flatulence and diarrhoea.

  • Lactose intolerance is caused by a decreased level of the enzyme lactase, which is found in the small intestine. As a result, lactose is not broken down into glucose and galactose for absorption. Instead, it enters the colon where it is fermented into gases and fatty acids, which cause the symptoms.

  • As an individual gets older or following gastroenteritis, lactose intolerance can develop spontaneously. Lactose intolerance can also occur in patients with coeliac disease.

Picture credit: © ChesiireCat/iStockphoto.com

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