Lactose Intolerance Facts

  • Article
  • 2 min read February 1, 2018

Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

First off, what’s lactose intolerance? Here are the facts: 

Lactose intolerance is characterized by a number of symptoms, which could include abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence and/or diarrhea, that may happen after some people eat or drink dairy. If the symptoms take place because of an inability to break down the milk sugar (lactose), then they’re said to have lactose intolerance, according to our nutrition experts at National Dairy Council. But, it’s important to make sure your symptoms are not from another problem with the help of your doctor.

Lactose Intolerance Conditions

Lactose intolerance is a very individual condition, which means people are able to tolerate different amounts of lactose. People often don’t have to miss out on the great taste and health benefits of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, because there are many options available with varying amounts of lactose, even lactose-free. Learn more about lactose intolerance here:

Additional Information

Lactose intolerance basics:

  • What is lactose? Lactose is a natural sugar in milk and other dairy foods like yogurt and ice cream. The body digests lactose using lactase, a natural enzyme. 
  • Why did I get lactose intolerance? The ability to digest lactose as an adult is a genetic trait, and individuals often tolerate varying amounts of lactose with no or minor symptoms. 
  • Is it a milk allergy or lactose intolerance? A doctor can officially diagnose whether discomfort after eating dairy is from lactose intolerance or a milk allergy. 
  • What is lactose-free milk? Milk companies make lactose-free milk by taking real cow's milk and filtering out the lactose. Or they break down the lactose into its two simple sugars.
  • 12 ways to manage lactose intolerance Did you know each person with lactose intolerance is likely able to tolerate varying degrees of lactose? That’s because one size does not fit all. Try some of these tips to eat the foods you love without discomfort.

Answers to common questions about lactose intolerance, pregnancy and children:

  • Is lactose intolerance genetic? The answer is both yes and no. In one sense, it's caused by our genes. And there are things people can do to minimize lactose intolerance symptoms. 
  • Should I cut back on dairy during pregnancy? Happily, no. If you already tolerate some lactose in your diet, don’t stop eating those foods. Instead, very slowly increase the amount and variety of dairy foods to get to recommended amounts.
  • Should I give up milk, cheese and yogurt while nursing to help prevent my baby from becoming lactose intolerant? Drinking milk or eating cheese or yogurt will not make your baby lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is a genetic issue, and it isn’t affected by what you or the baby consume. 
  • Kids and lactose intolerance Did you know if a doctor diagnoses your child with lactose intolerance, it may not mean they have to cut out milk, cheese and yogurt?

Resources for health and wellness professionals:


This article was originally published September 9, 2016.