Many individuals experience water diarrhea, nausea, bloating of the stomach, or cramping abdominal pain after eating milk products. They may think they’re allergic to milk, but in fact they lack the enzyme that digests milk sugar. Their inability to digest the sugar causes fermentation in the gastrointestinal tract, production of gas, and the accumulation of water in the bowel. The gas and water are responsible for the symptoms.
This illness is known as lactase deficiency. Symptoms are similar to the symptoms that true milk can provoke. lactase is the enzyme that digests the sugar lactose. Lactose is the sugar found in milk and milk products.
The deficiency of lactase may be partial or complete. This accounts for the variable severity. Though the total absence of lactase will have symptoms after ingesting small amounts of milk, while those with partial deficiency can tolerate substantial amounts of milk.
If you have been told you are allergic to milk and have only gastrointestinal symptoms, you should ask your doctor to test you for this condition. Patients who have been told they have dyspepsia, heartburn, and even ulcers may actually have this condition.
Treatment is identical to the treatment of milk allergy. Avoid milk and milk containing products.
You have a partial deficiency, you must reduce your intake of lactose to a point you can tolerate. If you have a temporary deficiency, such as can occur during bowel infections, you need to be careful while you have the infection
There are commercially available milk substitutes for lactase deficiency. These products have predigested lactose are substitutes sugars for lactose