ABC Medical Center > Lactose intolerance

What is Lactose intolerance?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is a condition in which the body is not able to digest the sugar found in dairy products called lactose, due to the insufficiency of a digestive enzyme called lactase that is created in the small intestine, without which it becomes difficult or impossible to digest this milk sugar depending on its degree of insufficiency.

People who suffer from it experience gas, inflammation, and diarrhea when they consume milk or its derivatives, but despite this, they do not usually have serious complications.

When there are low levels of lactase, the lactose in dairy products is not processed and reaches the colon directly, and when it comes into contact with intestinal bacteria, an adverse process begins that causes the characteristic symptoms of this disorder.

Signs and symptoms Lactose intolerance

They are characterized by:

  • Diarrheal episodes.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomit.
  • Abdominal distension.
  • Stomachache.
  • Flatulence.

Lactose intolerance is classified into three types:

  • Primary: As children grow, they replace milk with other foods, so lactase production gradually decreases, but if this decrease is abrupt, they will develop lactose intolerance in adulthood.
  • Secondary:  It appears after damage, surgery, or a condition in the small intestine that alters its ability to produce lactase, such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.
  • Congenital: When from birth the baby presents a lactase deficiency due to genetic inheritance.

Potential risks:

  • Being in adulthood.
  • Having been a premature baby.
  • Suffer from small intestine disorders. 
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Radiotherapy.

Diagnosis and treatment Lactose intolerance

Once your doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination and request the following tests to confirm the diagnosis: Once the diagnosis has been established, the treatment to be followed will depend on the underlying disease that has caused it, so, once the cause has been addressed, the lactase levels may return to normal after several months.

To avoid the discomfort caused by lactose intolerance, you will need to adopt a low-lactose food program:

  • Minimize your intake of dairy products.
  • Consume lactose-free dairy.
  • Add liquid lactase to the dairy you eat.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


  • Ignorosa AKR, Loredo MA, Cervantes BR, et al. Absorción intestinal deficiente de lactosa; actualidades en pediatría. Alerg Asma Inmunol Pediatr. 2017;26(2):49-55.
  • Rosado JL. Intolerancia a la lactosa. Gac Med Mex. 2016;152(Suppl: 1):67-73.
  • Gómez-Gómez M, Danglot-Banck C, Vega-Franco L. Intolerancia transitoria a lactosa: criterios y procedimientos de diagnóstico. Rev Mex Pediatr. 2007;74(1):24-31.
  • Terrés-Speziale AM, Casas TLT. Evaluación del impacto de la intolerancia a la lactosa en el riesgo de osteoporosis. Rev Mex Patol Clin Med Lab. 2002;49(2):77-84.

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