ZocdocAnswersDo I still need to see a doctor if I know that I am lactose intolerant?

Question

Do I still need to see a doctor if I know that I am lactose intolerant?

Haven't gone to a doctor about it, but I'm sure I am lactose intolerant because dairy always makes me sick. I don't have insurance so should I just stop eating dairy? Is there really anything a doctor could do to help me?

Answer

Lactose intolerance is one of those diagnoses that many people end up having even if they have not received the proper workup. In your case, you are feeling sick after your eat dairy. You are correct in that this could be lactose intolerance which would mean that you would want to avoid lactose in your diet to avoid those symptoms. However, before I would give you that diagnosis, I would want to know more about your symptoms. When people with true lactose intolerance eat dairy or other foods that contain lactose, they usually get severe abdominal pain, severe bloating, and (most of all) severe diarrhea. This is because the lactose in the food does not get absorbed into the body and stays in the GI track and has to come out the other end. Your symptoms may be due to another condition that seems like lactose intolerance to you. For example, feeling sick can be a sign of gluten intolerance which is sometimes mistaken for lactose intolerance. It is for these reasons (accuracy of diagnosis) that I would encourage you to see a doctor. You should schedule an appointment with a primary care physician. A simple history along with a list of foods that make you sick will help make sure that you don't have any other illnesses.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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