HomeHealth ConditionsWhy do I suddenly have lactose intolerance? Here is your answer

Why do I suddenly have lactose intolerance? Here is your answer

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Lactose intolerance arises when the physique has issue breaking down lactose, the pure sugar present in dairy merchandise. It primarily happens when the small gut lacks enough lactase, an enzyme important for the digestion of lactose.

The onset of lactose intolerance can happen at any time in life, no matter earlier experiences with milk and its merchandise. Whereas some individuals have lifelong lactose intolerance from childhood, others could develop intolerance as they age. Moreover, lactase manufacturing can lower considerably or stop fully in the course of the transition to maturity and past. Medical situations that alter the well being and performance of the gut are frequent triggers for sudden onset of lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance: overview

Lactose intolerance happens when the physique has issue digesting lactose, a pure sugar in milk and most dairy merchandise. Breast milk and commonplace toddler formulation additionally include lactose as the principle dietary sugar. When undigested lactose passes by means of the big gut, it might probably trigger discomfort, together with signs similar to gasoline, belly ache, and bloating.

The extent and severity of lactose intolerance varies from individual to individual. Whereas some could expertise issue digesting any quantity of dairy merchandise, others could tolerate modest quantities or particular sorts with out issues.

There’s a large spectrum of lactose intolerance, starting from individuals who can not tolerate dairy to those that can digest sure dairy merchandise similar to milk chocolate, laborious cheeses or yogurt. The 4 foremost varieties of lactose intolerance embrace:

Major intolerance

Individuals who expertise main lactose intolerance initially produce enough lactase in infancy and childhood. As youngsters transition to a extra diversified weight loss program, there’s a pure lower in lactase manufacturing. Nonetheless, it sometimes stays at a degree enough to digest the quantity of dairy in a typical grownup weight loss program. In circumstances of main lactose intolerance, lactase manufacturing experiences a major lower in maturity, making it tough to digest dairy merchandise. It’s the most typical sort of lactose intolerance.

Secondary intolerance

Injury to the intestinal lining, the place lactase is produced, results in secondary lactose intolerance. Frequent triggers are intestinal infections, ailments or intestinal surgical procedure. It’s also referred to as acquired lactase deficiency.

Developmental Intolerance

Developmental intolerance happens in untimely infants on account of an underdeveloped small gut, resulting in short-term lactose intolerance.

Congenital lactose intolerance

Congenital lactose intolerance is a situation that impacts infants. It’s a uncommon situation that arises when infants are born with a deficiency or absence of the lactase enzyme. This situation happens when infants obtain a gene chargeable for this deficiency from every mother or father despite the fact that each dad and mom are lactose tolerant.

Indicators and signs of lactose intolerance

Though much less frequent, some lactose illiberal individuals have reported experiencing signs similar to complications, issue concentrating, muscle and joint ache, fatigue, mouth ulcers, issues urinating, and eczema. The next are the 5 mostly seen indicators and signs of lactose intolerance.

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The cells that line the colon can not take up carbohydrates similar to lactose. Nonetheless, pure micro organism, referred to as microflora, ferment and break down these carbohydrates. This fermentation course of releases short-chain fatty acids, together with gases similar to hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane. This buildup of acids and gases causes abdomen pains and cramps. The ache is often concentrated across the navel and decrease belly area.


Lactose intolerance could cause nausea and, in some circumstances, vomiting, particularly in youngsters. In reality, nausea is the second commonest symptom related to lactose intolerance, after belly ache. The ensuing gases and risky fatty acids when lactose ferments within the gut are the principle components inflicting the sensation of discomfort.


Lactose intolerance causes diarrhea by rising the amount of water within the colon, consequently rising the fluid content material and general quantity of the stool. Nonetheless, experiencing diarrhea doesn’t essentially point out lactose intolerance. Varied components similar to weight loss program, different varieties of malabsorption, medicines, infections, and inflammatory bowel ailments may contribute to this symptom.

Throughout the colon, lactose fermentation causes the manufacturing of short-chain fatty acids and gases. Whereas most of those acids are reabsorbed within the colon, not all are. The remaining acids, together with uncooked lactose, contribute to better launch of water within the colon. Diarrhea or frequent watery stools could happen.

Fuel sensation

Lactose fermentation within the colon will increase the manufacturing of methane, hydrogen and carbon dioxide gases, which additional will increase flatulence. In contrast to when proteins are damaged down within the gut, which might launch malodorous sulfur compounds that trigger flatulence, lactose fermentation produces largely gases and not using a noticeable odor.


Whereas diarrhea is a commonest symptom of lactose intolerance, some individuals could expertise constipation. It happens as a result of the small gut doesn’t correctly digest lactose, permitting it to cross into the colon, the place it might probably have an effect on water absorption and scale back bowel actions.

Whereas lactose intolerance and dairy allergy could share some signs and require the elimination of dairy from the weight loss program, they’re totally different situations. Lactose intolerance impacts the digestive system, whereas dairy allergy impacts the immune system. Though dairy allergy can manifest some signs just like these of lactose intolerance, it’s an immune system drawback and may be extra severe and even life-threatening.

Along with frequent signs similar to bloating, gasoline, cramps, diarrhea, and nausea, individuals with dairy allergic reactions additionally expertise respiratory issues, hives, and swelling of the throat and lips. It’s important to acknowledge the distinction between these situations, as a dairy allergy poses the next threat and requires cautious remedy.

Causes of sudden lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance can develop at any age, even nicely into maturity. It’s because lactose intolerance is influenced not solely by lactase expression but in addition by components such because the cumulative consumption of lactose over time, the composition of the intestinal flora and the sensitivity of the gastrointestinal tract. All of those components can change as you age.

Sudden onset lactose intolerance is mostly labeled as secondary lactose intolerance and the principle causes of this situation are detailed under:

Sickness or damage

Intestinal ailments similar to celiac illness, Crohn's illness, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel illness (IBD), surgical procedures or accidents to the small gut trigger sudden lactose intolerance. Ingesting improperly handled or untreated water may trigger injury to the gut, which may result in lactose intolerance. Therapy of the underlying dysfunction can restore lactase ranges.


A drugs you take could enhance your sensitivity to dairy. Frequent triggers embrace antibiotics. Ropinirole, colchicine, entecavir and zaleplon are some frequent medicines which might be identified to have lactose intolerance as a aspect impact. Moreover, there have been occasional circumstances the place sufferers present process thionamide remedy and chemotherapy remedies skilled signs of lactose intolerance, together with extreme diarrhea.

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Growing old

Growing old usually will increase sensitivity to digestive issues, similar to feeling bloated after meals. Moreover, consuming caffeine or spicy meals that irritate the intestinal lining or stimulate the gut to contract extra rapidly can mimic the signs of lactose intolerance.

Don’t eat dairy

Folks accustomed to together with lactose of their weight loss program have considerably increased ranges of the enzyme lactase, six to eight instances increased, in comparison with those that don’t eat lactose. They’re extra environment friendly at digesting lactose, which helps stop signs. Nonetheless, abruptly eliminating lactose-rich meals out of your weight loss program could cause signs of lactose intolerance upon reintroduction, at the very least briefly.

Abstaining from consuming lactose-rich meals can alter the micro organism in your colon, decreasing the variety of micro organism that digest lactose. Consequently, reintroducing lactose in a considerable quantity could cause signs. Due to this fact, it’s suggested to not undertake a dairy-free weight loss program until obligatory. When you have already achieved it and wish to reintroduce dairy, it’s endorsed that you simply do it regularly.

Learn how to management lactose intolerance

In the event you suspect that you could be be experiencing signs of lactose intolerance, it’s advisable to seek the advice of a physician. In the event you naturally keep away from milk-based merchandise, there’s a threat of turning into poor in important vitamins similar to calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin and protein. Due to this fact, it’s at all times advisable to hunt steering on a trusted platform like healthadvisor247 and seek the advice of a nutritionist. It’s going to provide help to perceive and create a weight loss program plan that aligns along with your physique and way of life, guaranteeing you don't encounter undesirable deficiencies or discomforts.

When adapting to a lactose-free weight loss program and way of life, learn meals labels rigorously to establish lactose-containing components. Eliminating milk and its merchandise from the weight loss program may help management signs. Nonetheless, along with milk, take note of components derived from milk, together with:

  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Yoghurt
  • Margarine
  • Powdered or powdered milk solids
  • Whey or whey protein focus
  • Casein or caseinates
  • Curd

Be aware: Onerous cheeses like cheddar and Swiss usually include much less lactose than smooth cheeses. Yogurt can also be thought of simpler to digest than different dairy kinds.

Lactose intolerance can’t be prevented, however signs may be minimized by consuming much less dairy. Selecting low-fat or fat-free milk might also scale back signs. Think about making an attempt options to cow's milk, similar to almond, flaxseed, soy, or rice milk. Taking lactase capsules or drops, similar to Lactaid or Dairy Ease, earlier than consuming may assist management signs.

You may nonetheless get sufficient calcium with out consuming dairy from a wide range of sources. Some good non-dairy calcium choices embrace:

  • Meals fortified with calcium: These embrace juices, breads, and plant-based milks similar to almond, soy, and oat milk. Soy-based merchandise similar to tofu and tempeh may be glorious sources of calcium, particularly if they’re processed with calcium sulfate.
  • Boneless fish: Fish with bones, similar to sardines or salmon, are wealthy in calcium. You will need to observe that not all fish are excessive in calcium and calcium content material can fluctuate.
  • Plant meals wealthy in calcium: Plant-based meals similar to kale, collard greens, bok choy, and broccoli include cheap quantities of calcium.

healthadvisor247 Suggestion

When you find yourself lactose illiberal, it is very important keep away from dairy merchandise and components that include lactose. Some frequent meals to be careful for are milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream, ice cream, bitter cream, and sure processed meals which will include lactose as an ingredient. All the time test labels for phrases similar to lactose, milk solids, whey, casein, whey, and milk powder, as they point out the presence of dairy. Baked items (truffles, cookies, pastries) could include milk or butter, processed meats (similar to sausages and chilly cuts) could include milk solids or whey, and salad dressings and sauces could use milk or cream as a base. When buying, at all times learn labels rigorously and if you’re not sure a few product, it’s best to decide on options labeled lactose-free or dairy-free.

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The final phrase

Secondary lactose intolerance, typically sudden in onset, is because of a wide range of causes, together with sickness, medicines, getting older, and dietary modifications. Addressing secondary lactose intolerance includes treating the basis causes, similar to ailments or accidents to the intestines, drug-related sensitivities, and age-related modifications.

Whereas minimizing dairy consumption can relieve signs, it’s important to keep up sufficient consumption of important vitamins similar to calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, and protein. For efficient administration, looking for skilled steering, consulting with a physician, and dealing with a nutritionist may help create a well-balanced weight loss program that meets dietary wants with out inflicting discomfort.

Disclaimer: The aim of this text is solely to unfold information and lift consciousness. It isn’t meant to switch medical recommendation from professionals. For extra info, contact our licensed nutritionists. Right here.

Analysis sources

Lactose intolerance

Diarrhea brought on by carbohydrate malabsorption.

Lactose intolerance in adults: organic mechanism and dietary administration

Lactose intolerance after taking antithyroid medicines.

Continuously requested questions (FAQ)

Q: Why am I immediately experiencing signs of lactose intolerance when I’ve by no means skilled them earlier than?

A: The sudden onset of lactose intolerance signs could also be on account of a discount within the exercise of the enzyme lactase. Different components embrace getting older, sure medicines, medical situations, or remedies similar to chemotherapy, which might additionally set off lactose intolerance.

Q: Can lactose intolerance develop later in life and what are the components that contribute to it?

A: Sure, there’s typically a gradual onset of lactose intolerance on account of a genetic predisposition. In some circumstances, an damage or sickness affecting the digestive system causes secondary lactose intolerance, even when lactase manufacturing was initially regular. Sure medicines and chemotherapy can have an effect on the digestive system and trigger short-term lactose intolerance.

Q: Is it doable for a short lived situation to trigger sudden lactose intolerance?

A: Sure, a short lived situation could cause sudden lactose intolerance. Infections or medical remedies that have an effect on the digestive system can briefly disrupt lactase manufacturing, inflicting signs of lactose intolerance. As soon as the short-term drawback is resolved, lactose tolerance could enhance.

Q: How does stress or way of life modifications affect the onset of lactose intolerance signs?

A: Excessive ranges of stress for extended durations could exacerbate the signs of a pre-existing intolerance reasonably than instantly inflicting them. Power stress makes the immune system extra uncovered, susceptible and delicate to “international” our bodies. As a aspect impact, the physique interprets lactose as an aggressive set off.

Q: Are there particular medical situations or infections that may set off lactose intolerance?

A: Lactose intolerance happens when lactase manufacturing within the small gut decreases after an damage, an infection, or surgical procedure that impacts the small gut. Celiac illness, viral an infection, bacterial overgrowth, and Crohn's illness are some frequent triggers of secondary lactose intolerance.

Q: Can being pregnant be a consider growing short-term or sudden lactose intolerance?

A: Sure, being pregnant can contribute to this as a result of hormonal modifications can have an effect on the digestive system and trigger signs just like lactose intolerance, similar to bloating, gasoline and diarrhea. Nonetheless, in lots of circumstances, this is because of a short lived discount within the exercise of the lactase enzyme.

Q: What function does genetics play within the sudden onset of lactose intolerance?

A: Lactose intolerance could also be on account of a genetic predisposition that causes a discount within the manufacturing of lactase, the enzyme chargeable for the breakdown of lactose within the digestive system. In circumstances the place genetics play a task, the onset of lactose intolerance could also be extra gradual, however it might probably nonetheless manifest unexpectedly.

Q: Is it frequent for individuals to confuse lactose intolerance with different digestive issues?

A: Frequent signs of lactose intolerance embrace bloating, gasoline, diarrhea, and belly discomfort. These indicators are nonspecific and are additionally seen in different digestive issues similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel ailments. Whereas lactose intolerance and dairy allergy could share some signs and require the elimination of dairy from the weight loss program, they’re totally different situations.

Q: Can sure medicines or remedies trigger short-term lactose intolerance?

A: Most cancers remedies, notably these involving chemotherapy, can have an effect on the digestive system and trigger signs of lactose intolerance. Gastrointestinal infections or ailments have the potential to wreck the intestinal lining, influencing lactase manufacturing and inflicting short-term lactose intolerance. Moreover, sure antibiotics can upset the bacterial stability within the gut, which may result in short-term lactose intolerance.

Q: How can sudden signs of lactose intolerance be managed or handled? Is it reversible?

A: Some individuals could discover that they tolerate particular dairy merchandise higher than others. Experimenting with several types of dairy may help establish those who trigger fewer signs. Moreover, taking lactase dietary supplements earlier than consuming dairy may help stop signs. It’s important to acknowledge that, whereas symptom management is possible, lactose intolerance is commonly thought of irreversible.

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