how long do symptoms of lactose intolerance last

How Long Do Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance Last? List of Lactose Intolerance Foods to Avoid

In Digestion and Allergies, Food Allergy Natural Treatment by Anthony20 Comments

Lactose intolerance is probably the most well-known food intolerance on the planet and can affect more than half of the adult population. If you have lactose intolerance, you’ll definitely be able to recognize the pattern of eating dairy and having gastrointestinal symptoms all day. Here is a list of lactose intolerance foods to avoid to help you avoid the symptoms and some research that suggests that curing the intolerance may be possible for some people.

how long do symptoms of lactose intolerance last

Crohn’s Disease vs Lactose Intolerance

You shouldn’t confuse your reaction to dairy products with either of these conditions. The symptoms are very similar, but Crohn’s is a rare disease that causes a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can cause serious damage to your digestive system if left untreated.

On the other hand, simple lactose intolerance can easily be treated and it is more appropriate to call it a nuisance instead of a disease.

It’s important to first tell the difference between the two in regards to your symptoms so that you can be treated properly.

Both disease will give you persistent diarrhea and cramping. However, a person with Crohn’s disease will likely find blood or mucus in the toilet. Other notable symptoms of Crohn’s disease are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Anemia

Your lactose intolerance shouldn’t be too violent. So if it really bothers you and your symptoms are similar to these, ask your doctor about suspecting Crohn’s disease because they sometimes overlook it and expect lactose intolerance instead. (1)

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

To digest lactose, your body needs to be able to produce the digestive enzyme lactase. It is common for your body to not have the ability to make this enzyme in your pancreas. This means that undigested dairy will need to go through your entire body.

As it passes through, it produces inflammation in your intestines. Your body tries to get rid of the undigested matter by attacking your GI tract with an immune response. (2)

This process will create physical symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Acne

These symptoms are hard to miss and indicate that you have a food intolerance.

How Long do Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance Last?

The symptoms of lactose intolerance could be mild or severe depending on the amount of lactose you have consumed, how much natural lactase you produce, and your genetics.

Symptoms will usually begin 1-2 hours after you have consumed dairy products with lactose.

How long symptoms of lactose intolerance will last after you eat it depends on each person’s digestive speed. For some people, it takes 72 hours to eliminate food from their body. For others, it can take 24 hours. This will usually be the longest amount of time it takes for your body to deal with the symptoms. (3)

Typically, the uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance will peak after 5-10 hours and then begin to subside.

lactose intolerance foods to avoid list and tips

Lactose Intolerance Foods to Avoid

Having a lactose-free diet means avoiding all food products that have lactose and replacing them with alternatives. Lactose is a sugar molecule that is present in the milk of mammals to provide simple calories to their young.

Over time, adult bodies may lose the ability to produce lactase naturally because they can eat solid foods.

Here is a list of lactose intolerance foods to avoid:

  • Anything with milk. Unless it has added enzymes to help digestion specifically for lactose intolerance, you should avoid it.
  • Fermented milk products: Cheese, cream, hot chocolate mixes, kefir, reduced lactose, sherbet, ice cream, sour cream, whey, and yogurt.
  • Breads and pastries made with milk: Cakes, breads, cookies, etc.
  • Instant potato foods that contain milk.
  • Breakfast foods that contain traces of milk
  • Creamed vegetables
  • Battered meat, fish or poultry
  • Any entrees with cheese like pizza, tacos, casseroles
  • Chowders or cream soups. Some soup mixes have milk products as well as sauces and gravies.
  • Whipped cream and most creamed desserts should be avoided: fudge, chocolates, pudding, custard, toffee, caramel, pies

Wow, that must really be a bummer. You have to avoid all these foods!

Just kidding, there are tons of alternatives out there now that taste even better than milk. Plus, there are ways that you can reduce or eliminate your lactose intolerance. But for that to work, you need to use this lactose intolerance foods to avoid list and make sure that no lactose enters your body for a few weeks.

Lactose Free Foods List and Alternatives

At this point, there are so many other people struggling with you to manage their lactose intolerance symptoms. Milk is out of style anyways!

Here is a lactose free foods list to help you heal your intolerance and avoid annoying symptoms:

  • Nutrition drinks made with soy milk
  • Milk alternatives like almond, rice, cashew, etc instead of cow milk.
  • Non-dairy creamers
  • Bread made without milk, like Italian and French bread.
  • Pasta and potatoes.
  • Margarine without butter
  • Vegetable oils
  • Salad dressings(check labels)
  • All fruits and vegetables
  • All meats and eggs
  • Legumes
  • Soy and tofu products
  • Soups made with water
  • Desserts: angel food cake, frozen fruit bars, gelatin, honey, jam, pastries without milk

There is a huge market for lactose intolerance now. You can definitely find something affordable and delicious that won’t make you gassy.

here is a lactose free foods list and olive oil alternative

Can You Treat or Cure Lactose Intolerance?

The purpose of this site is to find ways to treat the root causes of allergies so that you can eat the foods that bother you again. I believe that dairy is worth eating because it has adequate amounts of nutrients like calcium and vitamin K that are difficult to obtain elsewhere.

If you are an older person that used to be able to eat lactose, then it is likely that this condition is due to age and you probably won’t be able to cure your lactose intolerance. However, if you are younger and symptoms of intolerance only arise when you eat poorly, then a lack of lactase enzyme may be a symptom of poor health that can be cured. (4)

If this is the case for you, try to avoid lactose as best you can to start healing your digestive system.

A Digestive Enzyme Supplement Stops the Discomfort Quickly

If you have lactose intolerance, it is highly recommended that you keep a digestive enzyme supplement with lactase on hand. Just in case you eat something with lactose by accident, you can take one of these and it will digest the lactose for you

I use that one for all my food intolerances and it saves me from serious discomfort. I am also allergic to beans and when I accidentally eat some and my throat starts to close up, I take one capsule and the symptoms go away after a few minutes.

Then you won’t suffer from any uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance. These enzymes can be used for any food intolerance and can help relieve stress from your digestive system. This one is inexpensive, highly effective by incorporating probiotics and prebiotics, with natural ingredients. It stops the digestive symptoms for all of my food intolerances ASAP.

link with the ingredients of digestive enzymes for food

Histamine Blockers Are New Supplements That Worked Great for My Food Intolerances

Everybody is allergic to histamine. The point of it naturally in your body is to let your body control and target inflammation. However, when you eat something you have an unnecessary intolerance to, histamine can be very annoying instead of helpful. It helps to eliminate digestive reactions that I get when I accidentally eat something I am intolerant to, like lactose in dairy.

The best histamine blocker is diamine oxidase, also called histaminase, which is literally the enzyme that your body makes to break down excess histamine. Commonly, your body’s supply of it can get low. Thankfully, you can take advantage of new medicinal breakthroughs like this so that you can give your body time to heal from the constant inflammatory attacks inside of you.

It’s very hard to find diamine oxidase online, but this is where I get it for the best value. Histamine blockers were essential for me when I was trying to come off of my addiction to OTC antihistamines.

link to get a histamine blocker for intolerance

I Give Credit to Organic MSM Crystals for Actually CURING My Lactose Intolerance

My blog and its followers praise the efficiency of the natural sulfur supplement called MSM. Since an extremely common mineral deficiency to sulfur is becoming an exponentially increasing problem each day due to our poor soils, this isolated form of biologically-available sulfur is a miracle supplement.

In crystal form, MSM can be quickly absorbed into your cells so that it can restore proper function that is was lacking without sulfur. This helps tremendously with detox, allergies (sulfur deficiency may be the cause of your intolerances in the first place), and it is a great beauty enhancer. It also boosts your energy naturally without drugs!

This stuff is great and I attribute it to curing my food intolerances and seasonal allergies, check it out here. It also helped me get rid of intestinal parasites (worms) that I didn’t know that I had. If you haven’t tried MSM yet, this could be the answer to your health problems. It was for me.


I am always here for you, so if you have a question or something to add about lactose intolerance foods to avoid, please leave me a comment below!

Talk to you soon,


How Long Do Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance Last? List of Lactose Intolerance Foods to Avoid was last modified: November 8th, 2018 by Anthony


  1. Regarding MSM, I have a question. This says MSM / sulfur can help cure lactose intolerance. I’m very familiar with lactose intolerance and have been managing it for 13 years. I was once prescribed an antibiotic containing sulfur and it made me extremely ill, as in exponentially worse than a typical bout of lactose intolerance. Most probiotics also make me ill. So does sauerkraut. Some things that are fermented don’t necessarily make me sick, such as alcohol. I’m not sure what I could actually use to strengthen my system.

    1. Author

      I also write about how fasting has really improved my health, along with parasite cleansing. Have you considered either of those?

  2. I am going through menopause, and it says you can have digestive issues, and under that it lists lactose intolerance. It says it’s self diagnosible, which I’m have some of the symptoms, but not all of them. Anytime in have something with dairy in it, I end up with cramps, bloating a diahrea. I tried Pop tarts yesterday, and ended job on the bathroom. How long can you have this issue after eating something with milk in it? My mom says I should try having things with milk in them to see what I can tolerate. Is this a good idea? Thanks for your article, it was full of good info. Since I’m new to this, everything is very confusing. If I am having issues the day after having something with milk in it, will taking something like lactaid help ease the symptoms, so I’m not stuck in the bathroom?

    1. Author

      Yes, something with the lactose enzyme in it already will work to reduce your symptoms or even eliminate them. However, I think that dairy substitutes might be a better option regardless of whether you are lactose intolerant or not. If you are reacting strongly to dairy products, I don’t see a reason for you to need to test it like your mom suggests. However, if cutting out dairy is a damper on your life, then perhaps you could try. Let me know what you think!

  3. I am going through menopause, and read that it can cause lactose intolerance. I’ve not been diagnosed with it, but anytime in have anything with dairy in it, I get bloated, gassy, and have diahrea. All symptoms of lactose intolerance. Should i stay completely away from dairy, or try adding it in and see what I can tolerate? I tried Pop tarts yesterday , and ended up in the bathroom most of the morning? I am totally new to this and am unsure of so much. There is alot of good info in this article. Thanks. You’ve made it less confusing. The stomach issues after ingesting something with dairy, can last how long?

    1. Author

      If you react to dairy, I would avoid it for now. There are dairy substitutes that taste even better than milk in my opinion anyways. However, I’m not sure why that means you reacted to a sugar pastry. Is there milk in there? If not, perhaps something besides lactose intolerance is your problem. Symptoms can last for up to 3 days.

  4. Hi Anthony,
    I am very conserned about this. I mostly get reactions to hot chocolate mixes, ice cream, milk and creams. Can you suggest some alternatives because it happened in the middle of a lovely trip to London, two hours away from home. I need some help. Could ice cream have caused diarrhea two ish hours after I consumed it????????

    1. Author

      Yes, it absolutely can. You can experience lactose intolerance symptoms up to 3 days later even. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the case for you if you suspect it. If the symptoms match, then I would be even further confident that dairy is your problem.

  5. Great article… what you said about MSM and DAO taught me something new.

    One important thing to note is the use of the term “allergy”. Lactose intolerance is not a food allergy, it’s just an ability to digestive lactose due to lack of lactase in the body. A true milk allergy is to the milk protein called casein. If you have this allergy, then even if the dairy is lactose-free you will still suffer from eating it.

    I have inflammatory bowel and unfortunately even if I take a lactase enzyme with my dairy, it will cause bowel problems. I take the lactase anyway because it reduces the negative impact of the dairy, but I won’t be spared a reaction to the casein.

    I’m going to try the DAO enzyme though, maybe that will help my casein allergy. I have a hard time abandoning dairy altogether because it is such an amazing source of calcium, and I can’t consume a lot of the calcium containing vegetables.

    Thanks again!

    1. I can only eat Asiago and Parmesan, not other kinds. Also, aged Swis. I haven’t had cheddar in 14 years.

  6. I’ve been having diarrhea for about 3 day now and it started when I ate 2 bowls of cereal and milk. But up above says that it usually lasts 10 hours so can it still be the effects of SI or is it something else?

    1. Author

      Hey Melanie,
      The initial reaction will last for a few hours, while the actual lactose can take up to 3 days to exit through your bowels. Everybody is different in how long it takes for body to pass through them. For some, it’s 24 hours and others, up to 72 hours. What I meant by the ten hours is the initial allergic reaction caused by the immune system.

      1. Hi Anthony. I’ve cut out a lot of dairy lately to try and lower cholesterol and felt amazing for weeks without the bloating and gas I was suffering with. Last night I ate some ice cream and when I woke up this morning I had bloating and cramps so I’m thinking I may be lactose intolerant adult onset. My question is Can the symptoms that much later after eating the ice cream and can it last all day into the night? I actually feel worse tonight than I did this morning. I appreciate any help or suggestion you have. Thanks.

        1. Author

          Yeah, that’s very possible. You can react to a food even days after eating it. A common misconception with lactose intolerance is that you immediately feel the symptoms, but that is not true at all. If you have lactose intolerance, you can experience uncomfortable symptoms up to three days later and feel fine up until then.

  7. Kefir has been widely reported to be lactose free as the highly probiotic bacteria is supposed to destroy the lactose. The use of kefir is on the increase here in the UK due to several TV programs extolling the benefits. What’s your take on this?

    1. Author

      Hey John,
      That’s a very interesting point, thank you for bringing it up. Kefir is a unique dairy drink in that it is filled with billions of probiotic bacteria units that feed on sugar to survive. The sugar that these organisms eat is lactose. Instead of turning it into alcohol like yeast does, it turns the lactose into a vinegar-like substance that makes the drink naturally sour. In a lot of cases, the amount of lactose will be so low that it is safe for lactose intolerance symptoms sufferers to consume. I would definitely recommend drinking kefir moderately for all people, especially lactose intolerance sufferers. Of course, though, if you are allergic to dairy you should not consume kefir because it is an allergic reaction that has nothing to do with lactose. Personally, I love it sweetened with stevia.

  8. Helpful info. Though I would add that dairy is absolutely not worth eating, as you can very easily obtain the same nutrients provided in dairy milk from various non-dairy sources. There is nothing inherent in dairy that we need nutritionally, hence “lactose intolerance” being common and actually normal. We have no nutritional need for dairy once weaned from mother’s milk, and no species in nature drinks milk beyond that point. Check out all of the great dairy-free alternatives available on the market these days. You will find an alternative for everything.

    1. Author

      Yep, that is true and I was hinting to that during this writing. And indeed if you are on this website, you likely have the resources to choose where your meals are coming from. However, people with lactose intolerance feel chains on their diet and would like to eat some cheese every once in a while because it tastes good in some dishes.

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