Is It Normal To Become Lactose Intolerant As You Get Older?

Published: January 31, 2014
Dear Is It Normal To Become Lactose Intolerant As You Get Older?,

Is it true that it is normal to become lactose intolerant as you get older?

Dear Is It Normal To Become Lactose Intolerant As You Get Older?,

Lactose intolerance is a fairly common condition and it certainly does happen for many people that they have a harder time digesting dairy foods as they get older.

The cells that line your small intestine make an enzyme called lactase, which helps to process the lactose in food. When your body does not produce enough of this enzyme it has difficulty breaking down lactose, which can then result in a person having gas, bloating or diarrhea when eating dairy foods. This is often referred to as being lactose intolerant.

Most people produce large amounts of lactase at birth and during early childhood since milk is such a major source of nutrition during these years. However, as your get older and your diet starts to expand from just relying so much on milk and other dairy products so much, it is normal for lactase production to gradually decline.

For some people being lactose intolerant is a condition they are born with. Others may become lactose intolerant as a result having certain diseases such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease. And others, as described above, have a hard time digesting dairy foods as they get older as part of a normal aging process.

If you think you might be lactose intolerant, you can read the TeensHealth article on Lactose Intolerance. It would also be helpful to speak to your doctor about it so you can be sure to be accurately diagnosed and so you can get the information you need on how to handle this condition.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.