Stomach Pain After Eating Ice Cream

Ice cream sundae in bowl with spoon.
Image Credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images

Stomach pain after eating ice cream is most likely related to lactose intolerance or a milk allergy. The two conditions are commonly confused because they can produce similar gastrointestinal symptoms, and can be properly diagnosed by your doctor. Ice cream is primarily made from dairy, which can cause various adverse reactions depending on your condition. If you experience severe pain after eating ice cream, avoid consuming it until you can talk with your physician.

Video of the Day

Lactose Intolerance

When you any food, your body produces enzymes that help break down proteins and sugars, making them easier to digest. The enzyme used to help digest lactose is called lactase. If you're lactose intolerant, your small intestines don't produce enough lactase to properly break down the sugar, according to MedlinePlus. Although most people don't produce sufficient lactase, only those with obvious signs and symptoms are considered lactose intolerant.


Milk Allergy

If you're allergic to milk, you can experience stomach pain after eating ice cream. The primary ingredient in ice cream is dairy, which will trigger an immune system reaction. KidsHealth states that during an allergy to dairy the immune system mistakes the proteins in the milk for a dangerous substance and attempts to attack the milk proteins. This triggers a chain reaction in the body of producing various chemicals, such as histamine. Histamine causes inflammation in soft tissue, resulting in common milk-related allergy symptoms.

Common Symptoms

If you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, you can experience stomach pain within a few minutes after ingesting the product. Symptoms that are common between the two conditions include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, gas and abdominal pain from cramping, according to KidsHealth.


Different Symptoms

Lactose intolerance will also produce foul-smelling stools that float, whereas a milk allergy will not. A milk allergy can result in various other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and difficulty breathing. You may develop hives, skin itchiness and eczema along with nasal congestion and sneezing, according to KidsHealth.


If you eat ice and develop stomach pain, call your doctor. Lactose intolerance cannot be treated once symptoms transpire. You can avoid lactose intolerant symptom by taking a lactase supplement at the first bite of ice cream. Stomach pain from an allergic reaction to milk cannot be treated. The only way to avoid milk allergy symptoms is to eliminate milk from your diet.


Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911. If you think you may have COVID-19, use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker.