Lactose intolerance occurs when the body cannot properly digest lactose, a natural sugar in milk and dairy products. Lactose is broken down by the enzyme lactase. A lack of lactase in the body allows lactose to remain in the digestive system, where it ferments and produces gas. The production of lactase can vary, especially in children, and as such the severity of the intolerance varies as well. Symptoms generally appear 30 minutes to three hours after an individual consumes dairy products.
Stress on the abdomen, such as that experienced during indigestion, creates bloating. A feeling of tightness or fullness usually accompanies abdominal swelling. In the case of lactose intolerance, the digestive malfunction involves the small intestine. As the undigested food passes eventually through the body, bloating will naturally decrease.
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