Symptoms of lactose intolerance

The most common symptoms of lactose intolerance are :

- bloating
- diarrhea
- abdominal pain
- abdominal cramps
- nausea and vomiting (especially with children)
- constipation

Most people who suffer from lactose intolerance experience only one or two of the above symptoms. Symptoms may appear as early as 15 – 20 minutes after food containing lactose has been eaten, or it can be several hours later or even the following day. Depending on the quantity of lactose ingested and the severity of the intolerance, the effects may last up to several days.

Besides these specific symptoms associated with lactose intolerance, the specialized literature also mentions many other effects that are seen by patients to have their origin with the lactose. These include chronic fatigue, depressive mood, painful limbs, dizziness, headache, difficulty to concentrate and eczema.

The appearance and importance of symptoms depends on a range of factors. The degree of intolerance, which differs from person to person depending on how little lactase is produced, is clearly of primary importance. The quantity of foodstuff already in the digestive system and the form in which the lactose was ingested will also influence the appearance and strength of any gastro-intestinal reaction. Lactose is generally better tolerated when it is absorbed together with other foods. The composition of the intestinal flora, and the physical and psychological state of the person may all have an influence on the strength of the reaction.