10 Signs You May Be Lactose Intolerant from 10 Signs You May Be Lactose Intolerant

10 Signs You May Be Lactose Intolerant

Lactose is a type of natural sugar found in milk; when your body cannot digest it, you suffer from lactose intolerance. It occurs when the small intestine doesn’t make enough of the enzyme lactase, which it needs to break down or digest lactose, WebMD explains.

When lactose moves through the large intestine without being digested properly it can cause a variety of uncomfortable health related issues – gas, bloating, abdominal pain.

*Related: This is What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Eating Dairy

You don’t feel well after eating lactose-containing dairy


“If you’re lactose intolerant, you may experience symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea half an hour to two hours after eating lactose-containing dairy,” Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ, says.

You have symptoms after drinking milk—but not after eating cheese


“Some people who are lactose intolerant may tolerate yogurt and certain hard cheeses like Swiss cheese—but can’t tolerate milk,” Gorin says.

You tolerate lactose-free milk better than regular milk


“You don’t have to switch to milk alternatives if you’re lactose intolerant,” Gorin says. “Lactose-free milks are treated with the lactase enzyme, which breaks down lactose. It might taste a little bit sweeter than regular milk.”

You experience symptoms after eating foods like bread and salad dressing


“People with lactose intolerance will be able to tolerate differing amounts of lactose,” Gorin says. “If you are lactose intolerant, you may find yourself experiencing symptoms like bloating and diarrhea after eating foods such as salad dressing, breads, baked goods, and processed breakfast cereals that contain lactose-containing ingredients.”

You’re having symptoms after taking certain medications


“Some birth control pills and over-the-counter medicines that treat stomach acid or gas contain lactose and may cause irritation to people with severe lactose intolerance,” Gorin says.

You have a lot of hydrogen in your breath


“One way to test for lactose intolerance is via a hydrogen breath test, which measures how much hydrogen is in your breath,” Gorin says. “Lactose that is not digested produces a large amount of hydrogen, which would show in your test results. You’d normally only have a small amount of hydrogen in your breath after eating or drinking lactose.”

You have lactic acid in your stool


“Another test that’s used to diagnose lactose intolerance is a stool acidity test,” Gorin says. “This is more often used with infants and young children and checks for lactic acid and other fatty acids that may appear in the stool as a result of undigested lactose.”

Lactose intolerance runs in your family


Gorin says that “you aren’t destined to be lactose intolerant if one of both of your parents are—but a certain type of lactose intolerance, called primary lactase deficiency, may be inherited.”

You get nauseous


When undigested lactose ends up in the large intestine, bacteria begins to digest it causing nausea. Therefore, if you feel nauseous 30 minutes to two hours after consuming dairy products, this may be a sign that you are lactose intolerant. 

Symptoms disappear when you stop eating lactose


One of the best ways to find out if you are lactose intolerant is to stop eating lactose completely. Wait about two weeks and see if your symptoms disappear. If they do, it is very likely you are lactose intolerant.