Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance, or lactase deficiency, is your body´s inability to digest the milk sugar (called lactose) found in dairy products. Lactase is an enzyme produced by the lining of the small intestine and is made up of two kinds of sugar: glucose and galactose. Patients with lactase deficiency do not have enough of the lactase enzyme to break these two sugars apart before digestion.

There are essentially three types of lactose intolerance:
  • Primary lactose intolerance develops in early childhood when milk is the primary source of calcium.
  • Secondary lactose intolerance develops after illness, surgery or injury to your small intestine. The small intestine decreases the amount of lactase developed. This type of intolerance may not be long lasting and, in some cases, can be reversible.
  • Congenital lactose intolerance is a rare disorder that is inherited, and family history plays a big part in diagnosing the severity of the condition.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Those who suffer from this condition may experience multiple symptoms.
  • Bloating
  • Pain or cramping
  • Gurgling (rumbling) sounds in the stomach
  • Passing gas
  • Loose stools or diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Lactose Intolerance Treatments and Procedures
Treatment options for lactose intolerance will differ depending on the severity of your condition. Our Houston Methodist gastroenterologists will make suggestions based on your specific condition.
  • Limit the amount of dairy products ingested.
  • Consume dairy products in combination with other foods.
  • Consume dairy products throughout the day, instead of all at once.
  • Consume products that have less lactose in them (such as lactose-free products).

When changing your diet routine, be mindful of the types of foods that may contain lactose. If you have severe lactase deficiency, there are a number of foods you might want to avoid whenever possible.
  • Breads
  • Baked goods
  • Cereals
  • Shakes (breakfast drinks)
  • Potatoes
  • Some soups
  • Pancakes
  • Cookies
  • Margarine
  • Salad dressings
  • Sweets (especially chocolate candies)
  • Mike chocolate
  • Dry milk solids
  • Whey
  • Curds
  • Milk by-products
  • Nonfat dry milk powder

We offer the latest and most comprehensive treatment options to address your specific condition.


Our physicians at Houston Methodist specialize in managing lactose intolerance at the following convenient locations