Lactose intolerance is a gastrointestinal condition developed in patients with a low activity level of the lactase enzyme. Lactase is responsible for breakdown of lactose, a type of sugar found in all dairy products. Symptoms of lactose intolerance are at times very painful and even embarrassing due to flatulence. Symptoms are usually seen only after consumption of dairy products. They include abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating, cramps, and diarrhea. In a study on lactose intolerance conducted by Engage Health in 2008, 82% of patients reported that symptoms of lactose intolerance affect their daily social routine.
Lactose intolerance is either hereditary or due to factors such as presence of intestinal parasites, chemotherapy, side-effect of penicillin, post-surgery effect, less or no consumption of dairy products, and hormonal changes during pregnancy. The heredity form of lactose intolerance is generally found in people in whom consumption of dairy products is limited, for instance, people in countries of Africa and Asia. The diagnosis of lactose intolerance is done usually after the frequent observation of symptoms. The relation between onset of symptoms and consumption of dairy products has been recorded for the diagnosis of lactose intolerance. Furthermore, hydrogen breath test, which is done to diagnose issues with lactose digestion, is one of the confirmatory tests. Other tests such as stool examination in order to check presence of parasites, blood test for celiac disease, and intestinal biopsies need to be done to detect the presence of lactose intolerance. High prevalence of lactose intolerance is observed among people that consume dairy products in low quantities. A few countries where lactose intolerance is observed are China, Japan, Italy, India, and Brazil. It is estimated that nearly 80% of the people in China suffer from lactose intolerance. In the U.S., approximately 60 million people are suffering from lactose intolerance. The number of people suffering from lactose intolerance worldwide is estimated to be around one billion.
Major factors responsible for rise in the population suffering from lactose intolerance are lifestyle changes, unhealthy eating habits, and low production of dairy products. The treatment of lactose intolerance is consumption of lactase enzyme in the form of drops or tablets. The treatment is usually taken in order to avoid social embarrassment. In case of hereditary lactose intolerance, consumption of lactase enzyme or lactose-free foods is the only option to avoid symptoms. Also, increasing disposable income in Asia Pacific and Middle East & Africa will accelerate the growth of purchase of synthetic lactase enzyme in this regions. Factors such as ignorance of symptoms by considering those as usual digestive issues and low cost of products used in treating digestive system restrain the market for lactose intolerance.
In terms of revenue, North America and Europe dominate the global lactose intolerance market. Around 60 million people in North America suffer from lactose intolerance. Growth of the lactose intolerance market in the region is attributable to food trends followed by individuals in this region. Latin America, Middle East & Africa, and Asia Pacific are emerging markets for lactose intolerance, due to low availability of dairy products in these regions. These two regions possess high potential for use of lactase enzyme to overcome lactose intolerance. Prominent players operating in the global lactose intolerance market are Ritter Pharmaceuticals., McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, Gelda Scientific, National Enzyme Company, Guardian Drug Company, Deerland Enzymes, Inc., and Roche Diagnostics.
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