What Are the Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance?

Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on September 12, 2023
2 min read

Do you often feel bloated and gassy after you drink milk or eat ice cream? If you do, you might have a very common condition called lactose intolerance. It makes it hard or impossible for your body to digest a type of sugar in milk and dairy products that’s called lactose.

Your doctor can tell you if you’re lactose intolerant and how to modify your diet to stay healthy.

These are many signs of lactose intolerance. How bad yours are depends on how much dairy you’ve had and how much tolerance you have.

  • Upset stomach
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting (sometimes)
  • Flatulence (farting)

If you get these about 30 minutes to 2 hours after you drink milk or eat dairy products, you should talk to your doctor. Lactose intolerance is just one of many things that can cause these symptoms.

Being lactose intolerant just means you don’t make enough of a certain enzyme that helps your body break down sugar in milk. The sugar ends up in your colon rather than being absorbed into your bloodstream. And in the colon, it ferments and can cause these symptoms.

Millions of people are lactose intolerant. It can be managed, but it can’t be cured.

Most of us experience gas, bloating, and nausea in our lives. Often, it has nothing to do with lactose intolerance.

But if you’re concerned, here are some things to note and discuss with your doctor:

  • Write down your symptoms and when you get them.
  • Make a list of your medications, vitamins , and supplements.
  • Did you have any milk or milk products before you got them?
  • Are there other possible causes?