Can You Become Lactose Intolerant Later In Life?

When a person is lactose intolerant, it means that their body is unable to digest the sugar compounds in milk. Most of the time, lactose intolerance runs in families, and anyone can develop it at any age (via Johns Hopkins Medicine).

Signs of being lactose intolerant include gas, bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain, usually within 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingesting milk products. These symptoms occur because the digestive system does not produce enough lactase. Most babies are born with the ability to make lactase, but the body's production of it decreases with age. In fact, some 65% of adults have some form of lactose intolerance (via National Institutes of Health). Moreover, your chances of becoming lactose intolerant increase if you have another intestinal problem such as Crohn's disease (via Mayo Clinic).

The four types of the condition are primary, congenital, developmental, and secondary. Congenital lactose intolerance affects babies, and it is inherited. Babies can also be born with developmental lactose intolerance. It is caused by underdeveloped intestines and is generally temporary. Secondary lactose intolerance occurs when you have issues with your small intestine.

Primary lactose intolerance can occur at any age

Primary lactose intolerance is the most common type of the condition, and it can occur later in life. The condition is hereditary, but because most people do not notice any serious symptoms until they are an adult, they think they have recently developed it (via Healthline).

If you're suffering from lactose intolerance, there are a few things you can try. You can take over-the-counter products, which can lessen symptoms. Be aware that specific drugs treat different symptoms. Some are designed specifically for gas and bloating, while others are made for diarrhea. You can even find products that treat all symptoms. Another option is taking lactase with meals to help ease symptoms. Sometimes, it is best to avoid foods that contain milk or milk products. If you're lucky, you can lessen symptoms by eating milk products with other foods (via Verywell Health).

You should see a doctor if your symptoms become increasingly worse or become so intolerable that they impact your quality of life.