Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Diarrhea and Lactose Intolerance: When Dairy Is the Problem

How Can I Control Lactose Intolerance Symptoms? continued...

You can control lactose intolerance symptoms by making changes in your diet, such as eliminating dairy products. However, you may find that you do not have to eliminate dairy entirely. For example, you may discover that some cheeses, like Swiss, cheddar, feta or goat cheeses, don’t bother you, while other ones cause symptoms. Or you may be able to have one glass of milk but not more.

Other strategies for controlling lactose intolerance symptoms include:

  • Eating and drinking lactose-free milk and dairy products (available at most grocery stores) such as soy or rice milk and soy cheese
  • Eating a solid food with a dairy product (such as cereal with milk)
  • Taking a lactase enzyme (available as over-the-counter tablets or liquid at drug stores) when you eat dairy

Where Lactose May Be Hiding

Although milk is the food most associated with lactose intolerance, any dairy product may cause diarrhea and other symptoms. Lactose can also be found in:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Ice cream

But milk and dairy products are not the only offenders. In fact, lactose may also be found in foods you don’t expect, including:

  • Calcium-fortified breads
  • Cereals and baked goods
  • Powdered meal replacements
  • Instant potatoes, soups, and breakfast drinks
  • Pancake, biscuit, and cookie mixes
  • Margarine
  • Salad dressings
  • Products labeled as non-dairy, such as whipped toppings and creamers, which may include milk-derived ingredients

These foods also may trigger symptoms of loose stool, bloating, gas, and stomach cramps. That’s especially true if you are highly sensitive to lactose or if you eat large amounts of these foods.

If you are lactose intolerant, the best way to avoid symptoms is by reading food labels. Steer clear of products listed with the following ingredients:

  • Whey
  • Curds
  • Milk by-products
  • Nonfat dry milk powder
  • Dry milk solids

Lactose also is found in more than 20% of prescription drugs and in some over-the-counter medicines. Birth control pills may contain lactose. Even medicines that lactose-intolerant people may take for relief, such as tablets to reduce stomach acid and gas, can contain lactose. Ask your pharmacist or health care provider if a medication contains lactose before taking it.

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
diverticuliltis illustration
couple eating at cafe
sick child
Woman blowing bubble gum

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Woman with stomach pain
diet for diverticulitis
what causes diarrhea