Dairy Intolerance: Uncover the Cause of Digestive Distress

What is Dairy Intolerance?

Dairy intolerance is the inability to digest dairy in the gastrointestinal tract. Although lactose intolerance is a commonly known condition, many people also have reactivity to casein, the protein in dairy.

Causes, Signs & Symptoms

Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency in lactase, the enzyme required to break down lactose, the sugar in dairy. Casein reactivity, or dairy protein intolerance, occurs when the immune system mistakenly recognizes casein protein as a harmful substance and mounts an allergic response. Dairy also can be a very inflammatory food and can cause digestive upset even in the absence of known lactose or casein issues.

Dairy intolerance typically causes gastrointestinal distress, like diarrhea, gas, bloating and abdominal cramping. Many patients also experience skin concerns like acne, rashes, and hives. Nasal congestion or a runny nose is also common.


How is Dairy Intolerance Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is fairly simple: if dairy tolerance is suspected by your naturopathic doctor, they will ask you to avoid all dairy to see if symptoms improve.

What is the Treatment for Dairy Intolerance?

Avoidance of dairy is the best treatment for dairy intolerance. For lactose intolerance, lactase enzyme pills may be used when eating dairy to help decrease symptoms.

Why Choose Spark Health?

Spark Health was founded in 2013 in Solana Beach, California, to help patients uncover barriers to their health and wellness. Our providers work as an integrative team to ensure that each patient's unique health goals and challenges are addressed in a holistic way. We understand that wellness comes from the inside out, and focus on personalized natural medicine and wellness options for our patients in San Diego and Southern California.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dairy intolerance cannot be cured, but it can be managed very effectively by avoiding dairy and including a wide variety of alternative nutrition options.

Depending on the type of reactivity, it can take 3 weeks to 3 months to eliminate dairy from the body. Lactose moves through more quickly, while casein protein takes longer.

GI symptoms of diarrhea, gas, bloating and abdominal cramping are common, while acne, rashes, and nasal congestion also occur.

Dairy intolerance is not a serious condition and can be easily managed by avoiding dairy in the diet.

Oral lactase enzymes can help to decrease the immediate symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Primary lactose intolerance happens naturally with age and a decrease in lactase production. Secondary lactose intolerance after an illness involving the small intestine. Congenital lactose intolerance is rare and caused by a genetic mutation.

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