What are the Symptoms of Sugar Intolerance?

Sugar intolerance, also known as sugar malabsorption or dietary fructose intolerance, is a condition where the body has difficulty digesting and absorbing certain types of sugars, such as fructose or lactose. This can lead to a range of gastrointestinal symptoms. The symptoms of sugar intolerance can vary in intensity, and they typically occur after consuming foods or drinks containing the problematic sugars. Here are the common symptoms associated with sugar intolerance:

  • Abdominal Pain: People with sugar intolerance may experience crampy or sharp abdominal pain, which is often located in the lower abdomen.
  • Bloating: Abdominal bloating and a sensation of fullness are common complaints. The abdomen may visibly distend.
  • Diarrhea: Watery or loose stools are a frequent symptom. Diarrhea can be explosive and urgent in some cases.
  • Flatulence: Increased gas production is typical, leading to excessive belching and passing of gas.
  • Nausea: Some individuals may feel nauseated after consuming sugar-containing foods or beverages.
  • Vomiting: In severe cases, sugar intolerance can lead to vomiting, although this is less common.
  • Constipation: In some instances, sugar intolerance can cause constipation rather than diarrhea. This can be more typical in cases of sugar malabsorption.
  • Cramping: Painful abdominal cramps may accompany other symptoms.
  • Headache: Some people with sugar intolerance report developing headaches after sugar consumption.
  • Fatigue: The body’s reaction to sugar intolerance can lead to a general feeling of tiredness and weakness.

It’s important to differentiate between various types of sugar intolerance. For example, lactose intolerance involves an inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in dairy products. Fructose intolerance pertains to difficulties digesting fructose, a sugar found in fruits, honey, and high-fructose corn syrup.

If you suspect you have sugar intolerance or are experiencing these symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis. Diagnosis may involve dietary changes, such as avoiding foods high in the problematic sugar, and may require further testing, such as a hydrogen breath test. Managing sugar intolerance typically involves adjusting the diet to limit or eliminate the offending sugars and alleviate symptoms. Consulting with a registered dietitian can be helpful in developing a suitable dietary plan.