It’s not hard to imagine that abdominal discomfort, associated with lactose maldigestion or intolerance might impair a person’s sense of well-being and quality of life. Lactose maldigestion and intolerance is yet an important health issue. Why? Because if your doctor identify lactose maldigestion or lactose intolerance as the reason for your abdominal discomfort, maybe you tend to avoid eating dairy foods (milk, cheese, and yogurt). This conditioned reflex can lead to lower consumption of critical nutrients (calcium, vitamin D, proteins) that are important for bone health. This reviewed study found that perceived lactose intolerance or objectively diagnosed malabsorption with the Hydrogen Breath Test – was associated with a lower perceived health-related quality of life.
Self-reported opinion of maldigestion and intolerance to lactose impacts health perception
Researchers in Spain determined the impact of perceived lactose intolerance symptoms and objective-diagnosed lactose malabsorption, on health-related quality of life in a group of 580 adults. Overall, 44% of participants considered themselves tolerant to lactose, while 56% considered themselves intolerant. Believing oneself to be lactose intolerant, influenced the decision to avoid dairy consumption (55% of the self-reported lactose intolerant avoid dairy consumption) more than actually being diagnosed with lactose malabsorption (41% percent of objective malabsorbers avoid dairy consumption). Self-perception of intolerance and objective lactose malabsorption were also associated with lower Quality of Life scores. However, those who reported no problems eating dairy foods perceived themselves to have better health than those who reported symptoms.
Are you an Healthcare Professional? How you can help!
Although from the patient’s standpoint, the experience of unpleasant symptoms may be more important than knowing if their symptoms are a result of lactose malabsorption – it’s important to have an healthcare professional-directed diagnosis to rule out other causes that could be more serious and need treatment. The practical #YINI information sheets on lactose maldigestion and lactose intolerance provide a structured and documented approach to the main questions you tend to encounter in consultations with your patients about dairy products. Check it out!