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Medical History and Physical Exam for Lactose Intolerance

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

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised June 28, 2013

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