What happens if you ignore lactose intolerance?

In this brief article we will address the query,”What happens if you ignore lactose intolerance?” We will explain what lactose intolerance is and some of its symptoms. We will talk about the difference between lactose intolerance and food allergy. We will finally briefly discuss some complications of lactose intolerance.

What happens if you ignore lactose intolerance?

Ignoring lactose intolerance can worsen the digestive symptoms and even cause more health problems for people that continue consuming foods that contain lactose. It can as well generally affect the person’s quality of life.

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a very common digestive problem affecting about 70 percent of the global population. Lactose intolerance is whereby a person is unable to digest a type of sugar known as lactose that is found in milk and dairy products.

An enzyme known as lactase usually breaks down the sugar in the milk and the dairy products so as to enable the body to absorb and use it. People with lactose intolerance either lack the lactase enzyme necessary to digest the sugar or produce low amounts of it.

This lack of lactase enzyme leads to lactose malabsorption and the result is digestive discomfort. Some of the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance are:

Symptoms of lactose intolerance can appear between 30 minutes and 2 hoursTrusted Source after someone ingests dairy products. These symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Stomach rumbling
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Flatulence
  • Abdominal pain

These symptoms usually appear within a few hours after consuming dairy products. Some people may also experience muscle and joint pain, poor concentration and headaches although this is less common. 

Is lactose intolerance an allergy?

No, lactose intolerance is not an allergy such as milk or dairy allergy. Food allergies are usually triggered by the immune system reacting to certain types of foods. This results in symptoms such as wheezing, rash and itching.

People that are allergic to something are affected even by a very little amount of it which can trigger a reaction, however, people that are lactose intolerant can still consume small amounts of lactose without any problem although this can vary among persons.

How do you treat lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance has no cure, you can only alleviate the symptoms by limiting your intake of foods and drinks that contain lactose. Some lactose free alternatives to dairy products are:

  • Cow’s milk lactose milk
  • Soya milk, yogurts and some types of cheeses.
  • Oat, rice, hazelnut, almond, coconut, quinoa and potato milk

Your doctor can also recommend that you take Vitamin D and Calcium supplements. You can also be advised to take lactase substitutes which are tablets and dops that you can take when having your meals and drinks so as to boost your digestion of lactose.

What are some complications of lactose intolerance?

Milk and other dairy products are good sources of nutrients such as calcium, proteins and Vitamins such as A, B12 and D.

Lactose assists the body in absorption of various minerals such as zinc and magnesium. These vitamins and minerals are essential for body functions such as development of strong and healthy bones.

People that are lactose intolerant are at risk of getting sufficient amounts of essential vitamins and minerals and this can result in unwanted and unhealthy weight loss and also an increased risk of developing the following conditions:


This is a condition whereby a person has very low bone-mineral density and if it is left untreated it can result in osteoporosis.


This is a condition that weakens bones and if it can put your bones at risk of breaking.


Malnutrition is a condition whereby the food that you take does not provide your body with the nutrients that are essential for a healthy body functioning. This means that it can take longer to heal wounds and you may experience feeling tired and depressed.


In this brief article we have addressed the query,”What happens if you ignore lactose intolerance?” We have explained what lactose intolerance is and some of its symptoms. We have talked about the difference between lactose intolerance and a food allergy. We have finally briefly discussed some complications of lactose intolerance.



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