Carbohydrate intolerance is a disease that causes inability to digest certain carbohydrates due to a lack of intestinal enzymes. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy and one of the most important nutrients in the human diet. Enzyme deficiencies can be congenital or acquired. Congenital deficiencies are rare; acquired lactase deficiency seems to be the most common form of carbohydrate intolerance.
Symptoms and signs of carbohydrate intolerance :
- Watery diarrhea;
- Excessive flatus;
- Abdominal cramps after ingesting lactose.
The patient should recognize his carbohydrate intolerance early in life and avoid eating dairy products. Diarrhea can get severe enough even to purge other nutrients before they are absorbed. Symptoms of carbohydrate intolerance are also similar to irritable bowel syndrome, therefore a visit to the physician is highly recommended. Diagnosing carbohydrate intolerance is considered an easy procedure. It can be diagnosed on patient history and supported diet. Patients usually have a history of intolerance to milk and dairy foods. The carbohydrate intolerance diagnosis is also suggested with the help of a H2 breath or a lactose tolerance test.
Lactose tolerance test is less specific. Oral lactose is administrated. Lactose-intolerant patients develop diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and discomfort within 20 to 30 min. Low lactase activity in a jejunal biopsy specimen is diagnostic, but endoscopy is needed to obtain a specimen and is not routine.
Treatment of carbohydrate intolerance:
There is no specific cure, to improve the body’s ability to produce more enzymes, but symptoms can be controlled through diet. Commercial digestive enzymes are the only resort to treat those who do not wish to diet or cannot help avoiding carbohydrate foods. Carbohydrate intolerance disappears when the condition is successfully treated. Carbohydrate treatment should be specific for each patient. Young children with lactose intolerance should avoid milk products and perhaps switch to soy-based formula, or drink milk treated with lactase enzymes. Small amounts of foods containing lactose ingested throughout the day are better tolerated than a large amount consumed all at once. For those who find themselves unable to ingest any form of lactose, there are some pills available on the market, but they should be taken only at the physician’s recommendation, even though they can be purchased without prescription. There is no specific way to prevent this carbohydrate intolerance. A proper dietary management and regular visits to your physician should help lead a normal life.