Symptoms of Lactose Intollerance? (possible TMI)

I have read folks on this very board referring to themselves as a bit lactose intollerant, so I am aware that it can develop in degrees, and that it’s something that can just kind of happen to a person. One day, they have a thick frosty shake and BLAM! Lactose Intollerance!

What I’m looking for are symptoms and signs of this dread malady. In the last few years I have noticed something happening to me, and after monitoring my diet, I think I have the causes narrowed down to dairy and dairy products.

The symptoms I have been having is this: in the morning I’ll have a bowl of cereal. That afternoon, I’ll retire to the throne room to ponder the nature of the universe. When I have solved all the mysteries there are to be solved, I notice a burning sensation. I clean up as good as one can get, and move on my way, walking gingerly due to that burning sensation.

A few hours later, I’ll head for bed. Upon disrobing, I notice that there are what appears to be fecal stains in my drawers. At this point, the burning/itching is pretty prominent, and has been for hours. I head to the bathroom, and usually have to wipe all over again, regardless of if I have layed any more foundation (if you know what I mean).

Is this lactose intollerance? I thought it was just some hemmerhoids, but I am no longer thinking that, due to my shamefully stained undies.

You are not a doctor, and if you are, you aren’t MY doctor, etc. etc.

I’m just looking for some advice, and someone to tell me that I’m not losing my bowel control at the tender age of 33. This only seems to happen after enjoying some dairy products… lots of cheese, ice cream, glass of milk, etc.

What I would do, if I were you.

Eliminate all dairy from your diet for 2-3 weeks (you will need to read labels - “whey”, “casein”, and the like are all dairy-derived). If the symptoms go away the most likely answer is that dairy is the problem. If they don’t go away, go see a doctor.

Of course, I’m not you, and you’re not me, so use your best judgment.

Neither whey nor casein has anything to do with lactose intolerance. You could of course be becoming allergic to something else in milk.

I have the impression that lactose intolerance will clear up instantly if you avoid milk. So even one day ought to do it. Another thing: yogurt has little or no lactose (it has all been metabolized by the yogurt-making bacteria). So if you were to substitue yogurt for your milk and the problem goes away, that should mean lactose intolerance. IANAP.

I’m lactose intolerant and have never experienced those symptoms. My understanding of lactose intolerance is that some people can’t break down the protein in milk. So, it goes to the intestines intact where it ferments and causes difficulties.

My symptoms (and those I’ve heard other lactose intolerant people describe) are a general sense of bloatiness, abdominal pain (or just discomfort), and increased (and smellier) gas. No real “solid” consequences, so to speak.

It’s possible to take a specific test for lactose intollerance. See a doctor if you want to be sure.


The symptoms of lactose intolerance are diarrhea, flatulence, cramps, and bloating. No burning sensations, and even hemorrhoids, which are a common result of loose stools and straining to evacuate, shouldn’t give a burning sensation. Fecal incontinence is possible because of the diarrhea, but it would normally be in addition to not instead of. Lactose intolerance (note spelling) is a possibility but maybe not the first thing that comes to mind. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is another possibility and is sometimes triggered by milk products.

This isn’t bad advice, although if the issue really is dairy-related you shouldn’t need that long to see a difference. If the symptoms don’t go away, definitely see a doctor. There are indeed tests for LI if you want to test that out.

Lots of bad information elsewhere.

Lactose is taken from the whey portion of milk and almost all dried whey products used in commercial food processing (and just plain whey usually means dried whey) are at least half lactose. You sometimes see whey protein isolate, which means that the protein is isolated and the lactose removed, but that’s mostly in protein drinks rather than foods. Casein and its derivatives are lactose free.

A dairy allergy is a possibility. Its symptoms can be gastrointestinal but what you report don’t sound right. But allergies manifest in many odd ways.

As the name says, it is the sugar - lactose - that doesn’t digest. Proteins are only implicated in allergies.

There are two routes to symptoms. Undigested lactose draws water into the intestines creating diarrhea. Undigested lactose can also be fermented by bacteria that live in the colon, giving off gas. You can have either or both.

Pain associated with bowel movements is more typically related to diagnoses such as anal fissures and hemorrhoids.

Fecal incontinence is not a feature of lactose intolerance per se although it would not be unusual to have loose stools of any cause be associated with underwear staining if the patient is passing flatus frequently. For a patient with solid stools this is not likely.

Underwear stains that might be construed to be fecal in origin might also be due to other substances such as blood from hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or other local disorders.

If I heard your story in my capacity as a physician my first thought would not be lactose intolerance. Only an actual physical exam would clarify the problem.

ETA: apologies for the duplicative post to EM’s above. It wasn’t there when I started…

Ack, sorry, thanks for the correction. I think I said “protein” because I remember looking up the bad part of the dairy when I was researching protein bars and then I got it backwards above.

or you could take a bit of a different route, grab a big fat bowl of ice cream and see how you handle that.
for me its extreme, if I eat a bowl of raisin bran with milk I will crap out recognizable raisin bran in easily under 20 min (more like 15)

painful gas, nasty farts, and pissing out yer arse are all symptoms if you have it bad, you might have a lighter case but it may also get worse as you go along.

Sounds more like IBS to me.

Ask your doctor about Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

See what I did there? Go see your doc, please.

Thank you all for the info…

Time to dig up the doc’s number, I am thinking. Dang it.

Since this has been answered may I hijack it briefly to ask if it’s possible to be intolerant to whole milk but not have a problem with say 1% or skim milk or other dairy products? My biology is rusty on this, I thought the “whole” vs 2%/1%/skim was related to fat content and lactose was a sugar not a fat. Am I mistaken?

I have the LI symptoms if I have whole milk but I’ve never had a problem with cheese or ice cream. Until recently I used 2% milk with no problem but that started causing some mild LI symptoms and so I switched to 1% which causes no LI symptoms as yet.

There have been a very few inconclusive studies that suggest that a milk fat intolerance is possible in a small percent of people. These have never been properly followed up and I’d say that the consensus is that the amount of fat doesn’t matter for lactose intolerance.

The amount of fat in a food may be a trigger for other reasons, like the ubiquitous IBS, and that can easily confuse the issue.

I can use Lactaid and then have whole milk without any problems so I guess there is a lactose connection to my problem.