Symptoms may cause distress to all, and screaming babies will cause even more distress to their parents. Not everybody experiences all symptoms or the same strength. However, bloating and wind are major symptoms that probably all suffer.
When lactose is not digested, it remains in the intestines exerting osmotic effects. Osmotic pressure draws fluids and salts into the gut which moves rapidly towards the large intestines. This increased level of fluid and salts in the colon helps the bacteria to ferment lactose into short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Hydrogen (H2) and Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S), the odour associated with flatulence. Hydrogen is one of the gases that cause bloating but due to its small size it escapes through the walls of the intestine into the bloodstream and is expelled through the lungs.
The fermentation of lactose leads to the typical symptoms associated with lactose intolerance. The classical symptoms are abdominal bloating, cramping pain and flatulence. Diarrhoea is a common symptom as well but varies from individual to others, depending on how much lactose they can tolerate and how much lactose they have consumed. Other characteristic symptoms include nausea, gaseousness, rumbling and in some cases, especially in children, vomiting. I believe that the nausea and vomiting are caused by the escaped gas from the fermentation back into the small intestines and stomach.
Symptoms associated with lactose intolerance may be mild or severe depending on the degree of lactase deficiency and the amount of lactose sugar consumed.
- Abdominal pain - cramps, often localised to the per-umbilical area or lower quadrant
- Bloating - caused by the formation of gases that expand in the warm conditions of the digestive system
- Flatulence - caused by the gases produced by the bacteria. H2S is the gas associated with the odour
- Borborygmi - may be audible to the patient and on physical examination
- Diarrhoea - stools are usually bulky, frothy and watery
- Vomiting - particularly adolescents
- Nausea - may be present, probably due to acidity and gases escaping backwards
- Weight loss - if kept unattended
- Malnutrition - especially in babies
|LI children can also enjoy drinking milk symptom free, simply add Lactase Enzyme liquid to treat it.|
Persons who suffer from lactase deficiency and do not avoid lactose or use commercially available lactase enzyme may suffer from weight loss and malnutrition.
Symptoms vary from individuals when they start. They may start within 15 minutes but they may also initiate after an hour. There is a high difference between patients in the perception of symptoms.
The severity of symptoms varies depending on the amount of lactose each individual can tolerate. Some of the symptoms may be confused with those of milk allergy but milk allergies can cause the body to react quicker, more often within a few minutes. If you are not sure compare the symptoms of lactose intolerance with those of milk allergy. Best way to confirm what one is suffering from is by checking the comparison table.