Medical History and Physical Exam for Lactose Intolerance

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Topic Overview

Medical history

Asking questions about your medical history is an important part of diagnosing lactose intolerance . Your doctor may ask you about:

  • Your symptoms and when they occur. To help make a diagnosis, your doctor may ask you to keep track of what and when you eat and the type of symptoms you have.
  • Recent illnesses, long-term diseases, or surgeries involving your stomach or intestines.
  • Your family history of lactose intolerance.
  • Your ethnic background. Most people in the world become somewhat lactose-intolerant as adults. People who have a northern European heritage usually are the exception.

If you think your baby may have lactose intolerance, you may be asked if he or she:

  • Has diarrhea often.
  • Seems hungry all the time.
  • Has gained little or no weight.
  • Seems irritable.

Physical exam

The physical exam for lactose intolerance includes examining your belly. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your stool. The stool of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery. It also can be foamy.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015