Start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have signs or symptoms that suggest you may have lactose intolerance. Because appointments can be brief, it's a good idea to be prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready, and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any preappointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Questions you may want to ask your doctor about lactose intolerance include:
- Are my symptoms caused by lactose intolerance?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- Is lactose intolerance a lifelong condition, or could it go away?
- What are my treatment options?
- Must I stop eating all dairy products?
- How can I be certain that I'm getting enough calcium in my diet?
- Should I see a dietitian?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- Do I need to come in for periodic follow-up visits? If so, how often?
What you can do in the meantime
Keep track of your daily servings of different dairy foods, including milk, ice cream, yogurt and cottage cheese, along with when you have them and what you eat with them. Also let your doctor know which dairy foods, in what amounts, are likely to give you symptoms. This information can help your doctor make a diagnosis.
If you think you may have lactose intolerance, try cutting dairy products from your diet for a few days to see if your symptoms ease. Let your doctor know if your symptoms got better on the days you didn't have dairy products.
March 30, 2016
- Feldman M, et al. Maldigestion and malabsorption. In: Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 26, 2015.
- Leavitt M, et al. Clinical implications of lactose malabsorption versus lactose intolerance. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2013;47:471.
- Montgomery RK, et al. Lactose intolerance. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 25, 2015.
- Lactose intolerance. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/lactoseintolerance/. Accessed March 26, 2015.
- Heaney, RP. Dairy intake, dietary adequacy, and lactose intolerance. Advances in Nutrition. 2013;4:151.