Most people get confused when the subject of lactose intolerance and lactose sensitivity comes up. Both conditions sound quite similar, and it’s really difficult to distinguish them clinically.
In this article, we will cover the basic concepts of these two ailments and how to tell the difference between them.
What is lactose intolerance?
When we consume dairy products, the different components of those products will get broken down by various enzymes in the gut. The most prevalent carbohydrate in dairy is lactose, which is normally metabolized by an enzyme called lactase.
The deficiency of lactase is what produces all the signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance; these include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Bloating and gas
Lactose intolerance affects a significant portion of the population, with some scientists estimating that 75 percent of people have it!
What is lactose sensitivity (dairy allergy)?
We should first establish that the term “lactose sensitivity” is a misnomer, and not many people use it. When you hear this term, people are probably talking about lactose intolerance or dairy allergy.
Unlike lactose intolerance, dairy allergy is not caused by an enzymatic deficiency, but it’s rather the result of an immune reaction against some protein components of dairy.
The signs and symptoms seen during an allergic episode could be quite severe, and in some cases, patients may develop a life-threatening medical condition known as anaphylaxis.
Whether you have lactose intolerance or dairy allergy, it is important to perform allergic testing to identify the exact cause of your symptoms since most of these diseases share many clinical features.
Pinpointing the exact cause of your symptoms is a crucial step to adjust your diet accordingly.