Lactose Intolerance Symptoms | Allergy

Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

by Allergy Guy

Lactose intolerance symptoms are common – many adults who could drink milk as a child find they cannot tolerate lactose as they grow older.

Lactose intolerance is not an allergy, it is caused by an inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products.  Many adults produce less lactase as they age; lactase is the enzyme required to break lactose into simpler sugars: glucose and galactose.

 List of Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Rumbling stomach
  • Vomiting (less common)

Symptoms typically appear as soon as half an hour after eating dairy products and can take up to two hours to appear.  The more lactose consumed, the worse the symptoms.

Unlike allergies, lactose intolerance symptoms are fairly consistent between people, the main difference is degree of severity.  If you think you might have a lactose intolerance, try drinking more milk than you usually do and see if it gets worse.  This is not a pleasant way to find out.  You can also try to cut out dairy products and see if symptoms disappear, which is a less certain method but saves you the unpleasant symptoms.

Medical diagnosis is similar to the first test above, except the lactose is dissolved in water.  The patient’s breath is evaluated for hydrogen and methane, if elevated, lactose intolerance is diagnosed.  An alternative, now largely abandoned, is to test the blood every 10 to 15 minutes, measuring each sample for glucose.  Glucose levels should rise if normal digestion takes place, other wise you have an intolerance.

What Lactose Intolerance is Not

Lactose intolerance should not be confused with a milk protein allergy, the most common being allergic reaction to cow’s milk protein (casein).

Alternatives to Avoiding Dairy

Many people are able to continue eating dairy products by taking lactase pills, which supply the missing enzyme.  Especially sensitive individuals may have to limit their dairy intake as well.


What is your experience with lactose intolerance symptoms?  Please leave a comment.

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