Lactose is the natural sugar from mammalian milk. Not processed (manipulated) mammalian milk contains between 4.1 to 4.9% of lactose. Human milk is exceptionally rich in lactose, 9%.
Lactose absorption requires the presence of the lactase enzyme in the small intestine. If this enzyme is missing, undigested lactose reaches the colon and produces alterations. The total or partial deficiency of lactase may produce a clinical profile of lactose intolerance.
The intensity of the symptoms depends on the level of lactase deficiency, the whole ingested lactose and the timing of intake. The clinical profile shows discomfort and bloating, flatulence, diarrhea (in some cases constipation), nausea, vomits and skin rashes.
If it affects young children, it can alter the growth. Most adults have insidious symptoms although the benefits associated with milk and daily consumption, make the patient able to live with the annoyance. In fact, most affected are UNAWARE of being lactose intolerant. Some of them not even show symptoms.
The survey of the daily intake and clinical history are enough to suspect LACTOSE INTOLERANCE. Regarding the treatment, control of intolerance depends on an individual to know how much lactose can take without showing symptoms.
Moreover, the food industry currently has alternatives of LACTOSE FREE DAIRY PRODUCTS, although the lack of legislation involves no rigorous labeling.