Basic Summary for Lactose Intolerance


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Main name of condition: Lactose Intolerance
Other names or spellings: milk intolerance, lactase deficiency


What is Lactose Intolerance?
  Brief description of Lactose Intolerance: Inability to properly digest lactose (milk sugar) and related dairy products
  Parent types of Lactose Intolerance: Digestive Diseases, Food intolerances, Under-diagnosed conditions
  Organs Affected by Lactose Intolerance: digestive
How many people get Lactose Intolerance?
  Prevalance of Lactose Intolerance: 30 million people to 50 million people (NIDDK 1994); about 25% of population (1994/NIDDK)
  Prevalance Rate of Lactose Intolerance: approx 1 in 9 or 11.03% or 30 million people in USA [about data]
  Prevalance of Lactose Intolerance: Between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. 1 ... This most common food intolerance affects at least one out of ten people.2 ... 30 to 50 million people (1994) 3 ... An estimated 30 to 50 million Americans (about 25% of the United States population) are affected by lactose intolerance.4
Who gets Lactose Intolerance?
  Profile for Lactose Intolerance: Certain ethnic and racial populations are more widely affected than others. As many as 75 percent of all African-Americans and Native Americans and 90 percent of Asian-Americans are lactose intolerant. The condition is least common among persons of northern European descent. 1
How serious is Lactose Intolerance?
  Prognosis of Lactose Intolerance: Excellent. Well controlled through dietary changes.
  Prognosis of Lactose Intolerance: Lactose intolerance is not serious. You should feel better soon if you eat less food with lactose or if you use products that help you digest lactose. 5
What causes Lactose Intolerance?
  Causes of Lactose Intolerance: cannot digest lactose because you do not have enough lactase enzyme. The small intestine needs lactase enzyme to break down lactose. If lactose is not digested, it can cause gas and stomach cramps. 5
  Causes of Lactose Intolerance: see causes of Lactose Intolerance
  Risk factors for Lactose Intolerance: see risk factors for Lactose Intolerance
What are the symptoms of Lactose Intolerance?
  Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance: see symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
How is it treated?
  Treatments for Lactose Intolerance: see treatments for Lactose Intolerance
Society issues for Lactose Intolerance
  Hospitalization statistics for Lactose Intolerance: The following are statistics from various sources about hospitalizations and Lactose Intolerance:
  • 0.001% (160) of hospital consultant episodes were for lactose intolerance in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 99% of hospital consultant episodes for lactose intolerance required hospital admission in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 51% of hospital consultant episodes for lactose intolerance were for men in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 49% of hospital consultant episodes for lactose intolerance were for women in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 55% of hospital consultant episodes for lactose intolerance required emergency hospital admission in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 2.2 days was the mean length of stay in hospitals for lactose intolerance in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 1 days was the median length of stay in hospitals for lactose intolerance in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 11 was the mean age of patients hospitalised for lactose intolerance in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 17% of hospital consultant episodes for lactose intolerance occurred in 15-59 year olds in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 1% of hospital consultant episodes for lactose intolerance occurred in people over 75 in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 38% of hospital consultant episodes for lactose intolerance were single day episodes in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 0.0004% (221) of hospital bed days were for lactose intolerance in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)


Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Lactose Intolerance: NIDDK
2. excerpt from Food Allergy and Intolerances, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID
3. excerpt from Digestive Diseases Statistics: NIDDK
4. excerpt from Lactose Intolerance: NWHIC
5. excerpt from Why Does Milk Bother Me: NIDDK

Last revision: May 30, 2003

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