Can you be lactose intolerant to milk only? (3 Factors)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you be lactose intolerant to milk only? We will discuss the difference between lactose intolerance and milk allergy. We will also consider some approaches to manage lactose intolerance and milk allergies. 

Can you be lactose intolerant to milk only?

You can not be lactose intolerant to milk only. If you are intolerant to milk, it is called a milk allergy and causes disturbances when you consume cow milk or soy milk.

Milk allergy is caused by an allergic reaction to the milk protein. Like other food allergies, consuming milk causes an immune response by the body. The body acknowledges milk proteins; casein and whey as foreigners objects and produces histamines that cause a reaction.

What is lactose intolerance?

Milk intolerance is a condition where the body can not produce enough lactase enzymes. The milk sugar is called lactose, which needs the specific enzyme lactase. A lack thereof would cause a person to develop symptoms that are associated with poor digestion of lactose. Lactose is present in milk and dairy products such as cheese and cream. 

What is the difference between milk allergy and lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is genetic. Even if a person is not lactose intolerant earlier in life, they can gradually become if the lining of their intestine becomes damaged. 

Lactose intolerance is the onset of symptoms after consuming milk or milk-based products within 30 minutes or a few hours. 

Lactose intolerance is signaled by bloating, gas, stomachache, nausea, and diarrhea.

Milk allergy is a condition that starts with the beginning of life for a person. Milk allergies are common in infants and young children. However, a person can develop a milk allergy later in their life as well. Many children outgrow their milk allergies before the age of five. 

Milk allergy can be triggered as soon as five minutes of consuming dairy or milk-based foods or even after hours. Milk allergy causes symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, skin rash, swelling of lips and face, and breathing difficulties. 

If you have either milk allergy or lactose intolerance, you will need to avoid most dairy products. People with lactose intolerance can eat hard cheeses and yogurt and they are not as sensitive to dairy as people with milk allergies. 

How are milk allergy and lactose intolerance tested?

In some cases, the doctor may be able to diagnose if you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy. Other times there are allergy tests including a Hydrogen breath test, stool acidity test, and food allergy test. 

Lactose intolerance causes the production of hydrogen in breath, which can be tested for by the doctor. The procedure requires that you drink a lactose beverage and then the doctor performs a test on you. 

The stool acidity test works by testing the pH of the stool. The undigested lactose causes the acidity levels to increase. This test is especially useful to test lactose intolerance in young children. 

Food allergy testing occurs in a medical laboratory where blood is drawn and then tested for a particular allergy. Doctors assign this test if they suspect you have a milk allergy. 

How to manage if you have either lactose intolerance or milk allergy?

You will need to monitor your diet and refrain from eating a moderate amount of dairy. Your body will not experience any adverse symptoms if you eat very little dairy and eat it with a meal rather than on an empty stomach. 

Over-the-counter pills such as Lactaid are formulated to help people digest dairy better. If a person with intolerance to milk still wants to uptake it, they can use the pill before they consume dairy. The pill works by breaking down the milk sugars lactose and making up for the job that the intestine is supposed to do. 

 Dairy products that are safe for such a person are yogurt and hard cheeses, as these come with only a little amount of lactose. 

However, you will need to avoid heavy cream, milk, condensed and evaporated milk, ice cream, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, sour cream, and cheese spreads. 

You will also need to assort your diet with calcium-rich sources such as spinach, almonds, and dark leafy green vegetables. You can also substitute the dairy products with lactose-free milk, soy milk, rice beverages, almond milk, and coconut milk.

To manage your health if you have a milk allergy, avoid foods that are based on dairy. Products that have dairy have a label or contain casein, whey, lactulose, lactalbumin, and ghee are to be avoided. 


In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you be lactose intolerant to milk only? We discussed the difference between lactose intolerance and milk allergy. We also considered some approaches to manage lactose intolerance and milk allergies. 


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.