Lactose Intolerance Test

Lactose intolerance is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders, affecting thousands of people all over the country. It develops from a deficiency of the lactase enzyme in the stomach. Lactose intolerance may be due to genetics or a result of an irritation in the intestines. Getting a Lactose Intolerance Test is important for individuals so that they are not living in constant pain and/or hurting their digestive systems. Contact GastroCare today to schedule a lactose intolerance test today.

Lactose is a disaccharide found in dairy products; lactase is an enzyme that breaks lactos down. In individuals without lactase, the digestive system is unable to break down lactose and absorb it in a proper manner, and it causes a number of symptoms. The unabsorbed lactose is fermented by bacteria located in the colon, which will release of hydrogen and methane gases in the body.

Symptoms may include bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps, and usually occur anywhere from a half hour up to a few hours after drinking or eating milk or dairy products. Lactose intolerance can cause a shortage of important nutrients. As a result, the digestive system weakens, making it more susceptible to infection and an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast in the body.

Why the Lactose Intolerance Test is Important

When lactose intolerance is diagnosed, an individual can be treated through modifications of the diet or supplements. A test is important because if the condition is misdiagnosed, it can cause further complications. Since dairy and milk products are crucial nutrients for children, pregnant women, as well as older adults, the lactose intolerance test may prevent unnecessary elimination of these nutrients.

Three kinds of tests can be used to detect lactose intolerance: the breath test, a blood test, and a stool test:

The Breath Hydrogen/Methane Test for Lactose Intolerance

The lactose breath hydrogen test can determine if you are lactose intolerant by measuring the amount of hydrogen produced after ingesting lactose. Hydrogen and other gases are produced when undigested lactose in the colon is fermented by bacteria.

You will be asked to drink 12 oz. of whole milk 3 hours before the test. A total of 2 breath samples will be taken over a span of about 15-20 minutes to determine if you are lactose intolerant. After drinking the liquid, you will breathe into a balloon-like instrument in intervals to determine how much hydrogen is in your breath. The more that is exhaled, the more likely it is that your body cannot process lactose.

The breath test is effective for the following reasons:

  • The test is specific in identifying lactose intolerance
  • The test is appropriate for individuals of all ages (with the exception of small children)
  • The test shows the increase in gasses that arise from undigested lactose
  • The test is simple and non-invasive for everyone

The breath test is the most common way to test for lactose intolerance.

Blood Test for Lactose Intolerance

Like the breath test, this test requires ingesting a liquid drink with lactose. After a couple of hours, a blood sample to measure the amount of glucose is drawn from your blood. If the blood glucose level doesn’t rise, your body is not absorbing the lactose properly.

Stool Acidity Test for Lactose Intolerance

The stool acidity test is often used on small children and babies. The doctor takes a stool sample to see if the lactose is breaking down properly. If lactose is fermenting in the intestines, it will show up in the stool and can be a sign of lactose intolerance.

This test is also recommended for individuals associated with any of the following:

  • Infectious diarrhea
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Chronic alcohol use
  • Drug use (including antibiotics)
  • Malnutrition
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Radiation therapy

How Do I Prepare for a Lactose Intolerance Test?

To prepare for a lactose intolerance test, ask the doctor about which test is going to be performed and about any restrictions before taking the test. You likely will not be able to eat or drink anything other than water in the 8 hours before the test. Exercise before the test may also be prohibited.

Let your physician know about any other health conditions you have, as well as any prescriptions that you are taking, since certain medications and foods might interfere with the test results. Smoking may also affect the test results, so you may need to refrain from tobacco use prior to the test.

How Can Lactose Intolerance Be Treated?

With proper diagnosis provided by one of the above tests, lactose malabsorption and its accompanying symptoms may be substantially alleviated using dietary, lifestyle, and supplement intervention (including the ingestion of protective friendly gut flora.)

The treatment of lactose intolerance depends on a number of factors. If the symptoms of lactose intolerance are mild, avoiding milk and dairy products may be enough to treat the symptoms. If a person is very sensitive to tiny amounts of lactose, then all labels on food products need to be checked.

Items such as cereals, breads, instant potatoes, soups, certain types of meats, salad dressings, margarine, or other types of baked goods may have hidden lactose. Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs may also contain lactose. An alternative to consuming foods with lactose is buying milk or dairy substitutes in which the enzyme lactase is added.

If you believe you have lactose intolerance, you should get tested right away. Contact one of our Gastroenterology offices in Glendale or Valley stream to schedule your lactose intolerance test.