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Scream After Ice Cream?

Lactose intolerance could be causing your discomfort

Ninety percent of Asian-Americans and 75 percent of African-Americans can have trouble digesting dairy foods, says this article from the Seattle Times.

The condition is known as lactose intolerance, and the symptoms include abdominal cramps, gas, bloating, diarrhea and a feeling of fullness. As many as 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, which means their bodies don't produce the proper amounts of the enzyme lactase. Lactase breaks down lactose -- the sugar in milk -- into an easily digestible form.

Sometimes people with lactose intolerance can handle small amounts of dairy foods, but often they have to avoid them completely. That means people with lactose intolerance have to be particularly careful about getting the right amount of calcium.

There are several ways to diagnose lactose intolerance, according to this article from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Blood, breath and stool tests can all uncover a lactose intolerance, but the easiest way to figure it out is to swear off dairy products for a few days, then gradually reintroduce them to see if your symptoms return.

Treatment can be as simple as avoiding dairy products or using an over-the-counter lactase supplement, says the article.

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