Woman suffering lactose intolerance sitting on a couch in the living room at home
Do you feel bloated, gassy or nauseous after you eat or drink a dairy product? If you do, you may be experiencing some common lactose intolerance symptoms.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

Milk, cheese, ice cream, baked goods and yogurt bring pleasure to the palates of many every day, but if you have lactose intolerance, your pleasure is exchanged for pain. Lactose intolerance can trigger many uncomfortable and distressing physical health complaints.

Not everyone’s path to lactose intolerance is the same though. There are three kinds of lactose intolerance, which can affect people in different ways.

People with primary lactose intolerance will digest the food well until their adulthood where the body drops its ability to manage lactose. Secondary lactose intolerance occurs when an illness triggers the body to react differently to dairy. Congenital or developmental intolerance presents when a child is born with no activity of lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose.

No matter the cause of your lactose intolerance, the same symptoms are present. These lactose intolerance symptoms will emerge anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours after you consume the dairy product.

Some people will experience every symptom in a specific order, while others will have just one or two signs of lactose intolerance. This point is a good time to mention that people may confuse lactose intolerance or a lactose allergy, but the two are very different conditions that lead to very different symptoms.

Be sure to track the clues that you may have lactose intolerance and tell your doctor if you experience any of the following:

1. Stomach Growling

There are many symptoms of lactose intolerance that one can feel. There are only a few that someone can hear.

The growling or churning feeling in your stomach is a common symptom that something is not sitting well, and it can be one of the first signs of lactose intolerance. It can present as anything from a mild gurgle to a fully-fledged grumble.

This symptom does not usually bring any physical distress with it. Instead, it is more of a warning sign that something more nefarious is on its way.

2. Abdominal Bloating

Once the stomach starts to rumble, abdominal bloating may follow shortly. Bloating occurs when there is an excess of gas produced during digestion.

Although it may feel like the bloating is happening in the stomach, the source of the discomfort could be anywhere down the digestive tract.

Mild bloating results in a very full feeling or that your belly is sticking out farther than usual. Extreme bloating can put unwanted pressure on the parts of your digestive system, leading to pain and uncomfortable feelings.

3. Abdominal Cramps

Abdominal cramps may occur with stomach rumbling and bloating, or it can emerge independently as a singular symptom. Just like the other symptoms of lactose intolerance, the abdominal cramps create a range of symptoms.

Mild abdominal cramps can trigger a brief twinge of discomfort in your stomach. Severe cramps may be long-lasting and painful episodes that travel up and down your abdomen.

The worst cramps could be so excruciating and debilitating that the person will be unable to function at all during the symptom.

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4. Gas

You may have thought that your stomach rumbling was the only symptom that you could hear and feel. You would be wrong though.

Gas and flatulence are extremely likely for someone with a lactose intolerance after they have consumed milk products. The gas may trigger a sporadic, good-natured chuckle, but gas can dramatically interfere with a person’s life.

Imagine being in the middle of an important meeting or special event in your life, only to have flatulence interrupt the occasion. Gas is a sign that a problem is occurring in your digestive system.

5. Diarrhea

Depending on your body’s reaction to lactose, it may choose to speed the milk products through your system as quickly as possible. Diarrhea is the most common result when this happens.

The rare instance of diarrhea is not a cause for concern, but frequent or intense diarrhea can be damaging. In troubling situations, diarrhea can end with extreme dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Both conditions put added stress on your heart and may result in serious cardiac consequences.

Be sure to consult your doctor anytime diarrhea becomes excessive, frequent, or persistent.

6. Nausea and Vomiting

Is there a symptom more frustrating than nausea? Certainly, the items on the list have their negatives, but nausea can cast a dark shadow over even the most beautiful day.

With the nausea related to lactose intolerance, you are never quite sure what your body is telling you. Do you need to lay down or is something else ready to happen?

Often, that something else is vomiting. Really intense reactions to lactose may produce the urge to vomit.

Vomiting is always an unpleasant experience, but it is a healthy reaction your body develops to rid itself of problems. If lactose is leading to vomiting, it is most definitely a problem.