You have terrible stomach pain a few hours after eating. You are gassy and bloated. You are experiencing bouts of diarrhea. You must be lactose intolerant, right? Not necessarily. You may have any number of other diseases or conditions that actually have the same symptoms. Before you can have a definite diagnosis of lactose intolerance your doctor will test you for other symptom-related illnesses.
You may be suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, intestinal infection and more. Don’t jump to lactose intolerance right away. While uncomfortable for the person who has it, lactose intolerance is not as serious as any one of the other conditions might be, and a proper diagnosis must be made to rule out anything else. Each one of these conditions mimics lactose intolerance symptoms, some more so than others. Don’t self diagnose or treat yourself unless you are checked by a doctor first.
The one thing you can do for yourself is to stop eating any dairy products for a while. See if your symptoms subside, or even go away completely. While not positive, this is one of the signs that you may be lactose intolerant. Milk, yogurt, cheeses, ice cream, bakery products and more have high levels of lactose, or sugar that you may find hard or impossible to digest. Leave them alone for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. If your symptoms go away you can pretty much tell that’s what it is. Fortunately there are now many products that are considered lactose-free and should pose no problem for you if you eat or drink them. Even if you are relatively sure you have lactose intolerance check with your doctor for a proper diagnosis to be sure you aren’t experiencing symptoms from something more serious.