Dairy intolerance is a common problem and has been estimated to occur in the majority of the population to varying degrees, though most cases are not pronounced enough to warrant investigation or diagnosis. Approximately 2 to 4 percent of adults deal with actual food allergies, while an estimated 10 to upwards of 75 percent of American adults have one of more food intolerances, depending on the food. Dairy intolerance is caused by either lactose intolerance or casein intolerance with lactose intolerance being by far the most common problem. In fact, lactose intolerance is the most common type of food intolerance worldwide. The most common symptoms of a dairy intolerance are gastrointestinal problems and can sometimes be confused with another food allergy or other problem.
Lactose intolerance is the most common reason for dairy intolerance and often increases with age. Common symptoms of lactose intolerance include diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, bloating and headaches. These symptoms can cause problems, with the body being unable to absorb enough nutrients from the food being consumed. Lactose intolerance is generally a long-term problem; this should be a suspected diagnosis if these problems have been experienced over a period of time.
Often, an intolerance to casein is identified through the use of an elimination diet. Symptoms of casein intolerance include gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea, along with common signs of allergy such as hives, eczema and asthmatic conditions.
Dairy intolerance symptoms generally begin shortly after consuming dairy products, usually within 30 minutes to 2 hours. Though symptoms of dairy intolerance are usually mild, they can be rather severe in extreme cases. It can be difficult to identify a food intolerance due to the wide variety of processed foods in the diet which often contain ingredients unfamiliar to the general public. Dairy is included in many such processed foods.
If you experience the symptoms of dairy intolerance after consuming meals and on a regular basis, you may want to get blood work done or try the elimination diet to pinpoint the exact cause of symptoms. If it turns out that you are suffering from an intolerance to dairy products, symptoms can be immediately alleviated through an elimination of all dairy products from the diet. Alternatively, it can be enough in some cases to simply reduce the amount of dairy in the diet. Calcium can still be obtained through the consumption of non-dairy food products such as broccoli, oranges, salmon and tofu, although supplementation is a wise thing to do.
Food intolerances in general, and dairy intolerance specifically, are quite common in the general population. Some people may go years without discovering the source of their discomfort. However, once the intolerance has been identified, the removal of offending foods from the diet can quickly relieve symptoms.