Montalto M, Curigliano V, Santoro L, Vastola M, Cammarota G, Manna R, Gasbarrini A, Gasbarrini G - 31949 N - World J Gastroenterol 2006 ; 12(2) : 187-91
Lactose malabsorption is a very common condition characterized by intestinal lactase deficiency. Primary lactose malabsorption is an inherited deficit present in the majority of the world’s population, while secondary hypolactasia can be the consequence of an intestinal disease. The presence of malabsorbed lactose in the colonic lumen causes gastrointestinal symptoms. The condition is known as lactose intolerance. In patients with lactase nonpersistence, treatment should be considered exclusively if intolerance symptoms are present. In the absence of guidelines, the common therapeutic approach tends to exclude milk and dairy products from the diet. However, this strategy may have serious nutritional disadvantages. Several studies have been carried out to find alternative approaches, such as exogenous beta-galactosidase, yogurt and probiotics for their bacterial lactase activity, pharmacological and non pharmacological strategies that can prolong contact time between enzyme and substrate delaying gastrointestinal transit time, and chronic lactose ingestion to enhance colonic adaptation. In this review the usefulness of these approaches is discussed and a therapeutic management with a flow chart is proposed.