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Milk & Flatulence

By Grace Covelli

Milk is a common cause of flatulence, a condition associated with sometimes audible and odorous releases of gas from the body. Some people who experience flatulence after drinking milk may try to avoid this beverage, but completely eliminating milk from your diet is usually not necessary. Certain individuals can tolerate 8 oz. of milk with no problem.

The Facts

Milk-induced flatulence occurs in individuals who lack lactase, an enzyme required for the digestion of lactose in milk. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, many African-Americans and Asians are deficient in lactase, and a small percentage of Caucasians lack this enzyme. The amount of lactase in the body lessens with age.

Significance

Flatulence can be a distressing experience, especially if your symptoms include pain and abdominal bloating. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, distention of the abdomen caused by bloating can be a symptom of colon cancer or Chrohn’s disease. Pain in the abdominal area is sometimes a sign of heart disease. A much less worrisome cause is the consumption of milk. Although intense bloating and pain should be brought to the attention of a medical doctor, it is important that you know milk-induced flatulence is common.

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Indentification

Milk contains natural sugar recognized as lactose. Some people are lactose intolerant. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, lactose intolerance causes flatulence, the symptoms of which include burping and passing gas from the anus. The gas that is expelled from the body often smells like sulfur, but this kind of gas can sometimes have no smell at all.

Considerations

Although milk may be suspect in a case of flatulence, other foods cause flatulence as well. Before putting the blame on milk, consider gassy foods such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, onions, artichokes, asparagus, pears, apples, peaches, whole wheat, bran and fruit beverages as the cause of flatulence. Some of these foods can create more gas than others.

Prevention/Solution

Make note of when you drink milk and when you have gas. Write down how many times a day you belch or pass gas from the anus. Keep in mind, 14 to 23 occurrences of gas passing a day is common and not an indication of a health problem. If you think milk is the cause, drinking less milk may help. Consuming milk with food may also help. Over-the-counter lactase, an enzyme, is another option. Another solution is to drink milk produced for individuals who are lactose intolerant. To be sure your flatulence is not the symptom of a medical condition, get examined by a doctor, suggests the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

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