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Symptoms of Lack of Digestive Enzymes

author image Kristie Jernigan
Kristie Jernigan is a health writer with over 17 years of experience as a medical social worker. She has worked mainly with the elderly population and with children. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and early childhood from East Tennessee State University and a Master of Science in health care administration and gerontology from the University of Phoenix.
Symptoms of Lack of Digestive Enzymes
Ill woman sitting up in bed Photo Credit: shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

According to the University of Michigan Health System, digestive enzymes are complex proteins that work to maintain pH balance and digestion in the human body. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a lack of digestive enzymes is caused by injuries to the small intestine or digestive diseases. A lack of digestive enzymes can cause a number of different symptoms that can sometimes be difficult to live with.

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Indigestion and Heartburn

Indigestion and heartburn can occur when you are suffering from a lack of digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes help to break down food so that it can move through the digestive tract. When there is a lack of digestive enzymes, you may have excess food that builds up in your stomach. This results in a buildup of stomach acid that can back up in the esophagus and cause intense pain and burning. In addition, the excess stomach acid can cause ulcers to develop in the stomach as reported by the University of Michigan. If you find yourself relying on digestive aids such as antacids on a frequent basis, you should see your physician for evaluation.

Nausea, Diarrhea, and Vomiting

When you suffer from a lack of digestive enzymes, it can cause nausea and diarrhea because your body develops intolerance to foods. For example, the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) reports that if you are lactose intolerant, you do not have the digestive enzymes (lactase) required for digesting the sugar in milk. As a result, this can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as reported by the NDDIC. In severe cases, you may even suffer from malnutrition. For cases like lactose intolerance, simple dietary changes may be enough to relieve the symptoms. However, if the condition persists you may need to see your physician for evaluation.

Bloating and Stomach Pain

The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that a lack of digestive enzymes can cause medical conditions such as lactose intolerance, which can cause stomach pain and bloating. Stomach pain and bloating can occur because of food that goes undigested for long periods. When food sits in your stomach and decomposes it causes a buildup of gases and this can lead to the stomach pain and bloating that you may experience. This build up of gas can also cause belching that can also be problematic for you.

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