Many people think that they or their children are lactose intolerant without being tested or diagnosed.1 As a result, many people avoid or greatly limit their intake of dairy products,2 which are rich in calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients help to build strong bones. Most people who are lactose intolerant are able to consume some amount of lactose without symptoms.
It's not always easy to tell based on symptoms alone whether a person has lactose intolerance or another condition.2 Many common health problems have similar symptoms. For instance, lactose intolerance has many of the same symptoms as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); however, IBS can also cause constipation.
If lactose intolerance is suspected, the person may be asked to stop eating or drinking foods that contain lactose for a brief time. If the symptoms go away, then this information may be all a health care provider needs for a diagnosis.2 The following tests also can help diagnose lactose intolerance:
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