Stress alone does not cause lactose intolerance. Stress does affect lactose intolerance as it does in most conditions. If you have lactose intolerance, increased or prolonged stress can bring on an attack or make symptoms more severe. Some people only exhibit lactose intolerance during periods of stress.
What is Stress Induced Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance that is usually dormant except in times of stress would be considered to be stress induced. Some people tolerate lactose in small amounts, but when stressors are present, upsetting the balance of the digestive system, even small amounts of lactose cannot be tolerated.
Increased stress and prolonged stress can affect the nerves of the digestive system. It can cause upset to the balance in the digestive process. Some people experience frequent bowl evacuation and loose or watery stools when stress is present. In other people stress can slow the process of digestion which leads to bloating, constipation and pain. If you have lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome or peptic ulcers these conditions may become worse with stress.
Symptoms of Stress Induced Lactose Intolerance
Symptoms of lactose intolerance can be provoked by stress if you already have intolerance to lactose. If you have never had a diagnosis of lactose intolerance and have not usually had problems with dairy products but experience symptoms during periods of stress, ask your doctor. You may be lactose intolerant and it is only exacerbated by stress.
Lactose intolerance that has been controlled by diet changes and use of medications or latent lactose intolerance can become symptomatic in times of stress. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, abdominal cramping, gas, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Treatment for Stress Induced Lactose Intolerance
Stress induced lactose intolerance is treated the same as lactose intolerance when symptoms occur.
The most important issue is to control your stress, especially if you tolerate dairy products in all other times except stress. Take steps necessary to lower the stress in your life, learn coping techniques and ways to relax. If avoiding stress can prevent an attack of lactose intolerance, it is well worth the time investment to learn to control the stress.
If stress causes your lactose intolerance to be symptomatic you will need to avoid products containing lactose during times of stress. There are supplements available to add to dairy products and tablets to take prior to eating or drinking lactose containing foods or beverages.