Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

Lactose intolerance symptoms usually start during the teen or adult years and last for life. Lactose intolerance is a digestive issue where the body is not capable of digesting lactose, a form of sugar mostly found in dairy products and milk.

Many times people who have never had issues with dairy products or milk suddenly have this condition. This is usually more common as people get older.

The most common type of lactose intolerance is adult lactose intolerance. Symptoms of these type usually begin during the teen or adult years and last for life. On the other hand, symptoms of acquired lactose intolerance typically last as long as the small intestine doesn’t produce lactase.

Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

In general, lactose intolerance symptoms often develop within a few hours of eating food or drinking beverage that contains lactose. These symptoms can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Bloated stomach
  • Feeling sick
  • Stomach pains and cramps
  • Stomach rumbling

The severity of the symptoms and when they occur depends on the amounts of lactose you have consumed.

There are some cases when people can still consume a small cup of milk without having any symptoms while other people are not even able to add a little milk to their coffee or tea.

In very rare cases, babies are lactose-intolerant. These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Slow weight gain
  • Dehydration
  • Foamy diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Diaper rash


Very Important Information (VIP):

Lactose intolerance IS NOT AN ALLERGY!

Lactose intolerance is not the same as a dairy or milk allergy. Food allergies are caused by a reaction of the immune system to a certain type of foods. A food allergy causes symptoms as an itching, rash, and wheezing.

In case you are allergic to something, even a little particle could be enough to cause a reaction, while many people with lactose intolerance could still consume some amounts of lactose without having any issues (though this can vary from person to person).

When to Visit Your Doctor

Visit your doctor if you think you have lactose intolerance symptoms. Your doctor will make sure if the symptoms are caused by lactose intolerance or some other problem.  Certain other conditions can cause similar symptoms, including inflammatory bowel disease, overuse of laxatives, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive problems.




Lactose intolerance is not the same as food allergies. Symptoms of food allergy are more severe than lactose intolerance symptoms. People who suffer from a milk allergy can’t consume any milk products while people with lactose intolerance can consume a small amount of milk. For more information, see the article food allergies.

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