Lactose Intolerance Symptoms – How To Know If You Are

Lactose intolerance isn’t fun, if you’re wondering if you’re lactose intolerant its probably because you’re getting some of the following symptoms. Here is our 101 on lactose intolerance.

We’ve put together a lactose intolerance 101 post for you so you can see what symptoms to expect, how to reduce the symptoms and some alternative ingredients.

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the inability of a persons body to break down the lactose sugar found in milk. This is because the persons body does not produce enough lactase to digest the lactose in the food you’re consuming leading to some unpleasant side effects.

How do you develop lactose intolerance

Some people are born lactose intolerant, others may develop it later in life. Approximately 65% of the worlds population has some level of lactose intolerance but this varys from population to population. Lactose intolerance in adulthood is caused by gradually decreasing activity (expression) of the LCTgene after infancy, which occurs in most humans. LCT gene expression is controlled by a DNA

Some people think that consuming less dairy over time can lead to the body producing less lactase over time because the body feels it doesn’t need to produce it anymore. However this is anecdotal (although I think this is how I developed my own lactose intolerance).

What are the symptoms of Lactose Intolerance?

Symptoms can vary from person to person, you may have some of these or just one of them. Symptoms can appear anywhere from minutes to hours after ingestion of a meal containing lactose (depending on the amount in the food).

The most common lactose intolerance symptoms are:

  • Gas (flatulencefarts)
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea (or loose stools)
  • Nausea

What are the symptoms of milk allergy?

Unlike lactose intolerance you may get these from a milk allergy but will NOT get them from lactose intolerance

  • Skin rashes
  • Hives
  • Lip and tongue swelling

How Do I Know If I’m Lactose Intolerant?

When you have a meal or drink with lactose you may experience bloating, gas, diarrhea, stomach pain or nausea. Everyone’s symptoms can be different, you may get one, some of all of the above depending on how much lactose is in the food. You can also go to the doctors and they may give you some allergy tests. An elimination diet or food diary will help spot what the common cause of your symptoms is. A milk allergy is different and more severe. If you can have lactose free milk without symptoms this is likely the cause.

What lactose intolerance treatment or medicine is there?

Lactase pills can be found online or in health food shops these contain the enzyme “lactase” which your body doesn’t produce. You take them before a meal and they will digest the lactose in a meal and stop or reduce symptoms, but there is no cure for lactose intolerance at the moment. Or you can avoid any foods with lactose in them. Many shops now have lactose free versions of ingredients and foods (pick the vegan option when in doubt)

Is there a cure for lactose intolerance?

Sadly there is no cure for lactose intolerance but as mentioned above there are things you can do to reduce or avoid symptoms.

What are some lactose free versions of common foods?

  • Sorbets are your new best friend when you can’t find dairy free ice cream
  • Lots of baked treats have butter and cream. Look for “free from” and vegan cakes
  • Chocolate also has milk! Look for dark chocolate which usually doesn’t have milk, or vegan and dairy free chocolate
  • There are lots of lactose free cheeses to pick from
  • If you can’t find “lactose free” cows milk, you can find lots of plant based milks out there
  • There are a lot of dairy free spreads and butter alternatives if you can’t find “lactose free” butter