Can you develop lactose intolerance?

Can you develop lactose intolerance?

Can you develop lactose intolerance?

Yes, lactose intolerance can develop over time due to a decrease in lactase enzyme production, which is needed to digest lactose, the sugar found in dairy products. This condition is more prevalent in certain ethnic groups and can also result from gastrointestinal diseases or injuries. According to the NHS, lactose intolerance is estimated to affect around 5% of the UK population. Symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and flatulence after consuming lactose-containing foods. Diagnosis is typically made through lactose tolerance tests or hydrogen breath tests conducted by healthcare professionals. Management involves avoiding lactose-containing foods or using lactase enzyme supplements [1].

How long do symptoms of lactose intolerance last?

How long the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance last will differ from person to person. It may depend on factors such as your individual level of tolerance, amount of lactose consumed, and also the level of lactase being produced. Some research suggests that symptoms may improve within 48 hours once lactose is removed from the digestive system [2].

How long does lactose intolerance last?

Lactose intolerance is due to a lack of the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the small intestine. Those with a genetic predisposition to lactose intolerance may have difficulty digesting milk and some dairy products. The most effective way to get relief from symptoms is to remove or lower the amount of dairy products you consume. Some research suggests that probiotic supplementation may also have a positive association with lactose intolerance. In particular, those containing bifidobacterium longum and lactobacillus acidophilus may support the digestion and absorption of lactose, which may help ease symptoms. Taking a genetic test can help support you in identifying whether you may be predisposed to lactose intolerance [3].

Why am I suddenly lactose intolerant?

Most individuals are born with the ability to digest the lactose found in breast milk, yet as we age, this ability can start to decline, which may lead to the onset of symptoms that may not have been present before. It's also important to note that lactose intolerance can also develop following a gastrointestinal infection or condition such as coeliac disease that affects the small intestine resulting in the inability to produce lactase. Consulting your GP is advised to identify if further testing is required and to rule out something that could potentially be more serious [4].

How do you test for lactose intolerance?

You can find out whether you may have a genetic predisposition to lactose intolerance by taking our Intolerances & Sensitivities test. Everything you need for the test is included in the kit, including easy-to-follow instructions and saliva swab. Taking a home genetic test is an easy and inexpensive way to discover if your genetic profile is associated with suppressed lactase production, resulting in lactose intolerance.

If you experience persistent gastrointestinal symptoms, speaking to a qualified practitioner or GP is advised to identify whether further testing may be required.

MyHealthChecked’s DNA Intolerances & Sensitivities test helps open your eyes to what's going on inside your body. With your personalised health report dashboard, you'll know which foods to stock up on and which to avoid unpleasant symptoms with lactose intake [5].


National Health Service (NHS). "Lactose intolerance." NHS Choices, National Health Service, 15 Sept. 2021,

Mayo Clinic. "Lactose intolerance: Symptoms & causes." Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 17 Nov. 2020,

Pribila, J. T., et al. "A review of probiotics in lactose intolerance." Journal of clinical gastroenterology, vol. 42, no. 2, 2008, pp. S95-S103.

NIH, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "Lactose intolerance." NIH, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 July 2017,

MyHealthChecked. "DNA Intolerances & Sensitivities Test." MyHealthChecked, MyHealthChecked,