Skip to Content

Lactose Intolerance, Ambulatory Care

Lactose intolerance

is when your body does not produce enough enzymes to properly digest lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy foods. Lactose intolerance can lead to low levels of calcium if you do not eat or drink enough dairy foods.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

Contact your healthcare provider for the following:

  • Continued symptoms, even after you make suggested changes
  • Questions or concerns about your condition or care

Manage lactose intolerance:

  • Limit or avoid dairy foods. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you avoid dairy foods at first. Then, you can slowly introduce them back into your diet. You may find that you can eat small amounts of dairy foods at one time.
  • Eat and drink lactose-free or low-lactose foods. Try lactose-free, almond, rice, or soy milk. Infants with lactose intolerance may need to drink a lactose-free formula. Low-lactose foods include aged cheese (Swiss, cheddar, or parmesan), cream cheese, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese. Read labels on all foods carefully because lactose is found in many foods. Ask your dietitian for more information about how to avoid or limit foods that contain lactose.
  • Avoid eating a dairy food by itself. You may be able to tolerate dairy foods better if you have them with other non-dairy foods. For example, have milk with cereal or cheese with crackers.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about enzyme supplements. You may be able to tolerate some dairy foods if you take an enzyme supplement (lactase tablet) right before you eat the dairy food.
  • Get enough calcium. If you eat very little or no dairy foods, you need to get calcium and vitamin D from other sources. Other foods that contain calcium include sardines, canned salmon, tofu, shellfish, dried beans, and almonds. Kale, spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, almonds, and calcium-fortified orange juice also contain calcium. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to take calcium supplements.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Hide