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If you’re lactose intolerant, you may get bloating, tummy pain and diarrhoea after drinking milk or eating dairy products. Your GP will usually suggest trying a lactose-free diet to confirm whether your symptoms are due to lactose intolerance. Sometimes you may need some tests too. See our Diagnosis section for more information.
Yes, lactose intolerance is something you usually develop over time, as you get older. This is because babies and young children usually have higher levels of lactase, which breaks down lactose in your bowel. Levels of lactase naturally reduce as you get older. See the About section to find out more.
You only need to avoid foods that cause your symptoms if you have lactose intolerance. Milk and dairy foods are the main foods that cause symptoms. But most people with lactose intolerance can have a small amount of these without getting symptoms. Experiment to find out what foods you can tolerate. See our Treatment section for more information.
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This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
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- Calcium. British Dietetic Association, June 2021. www.bda.uk.com