Lactose intolerance is when a person’s body is unable to properly digest lactose, which is a type of sugar found in dairy products. Your small intestines need to produce enough of the enzyme lactase in order to fully digest lactose, and people who are lactose-intolerant are generally deficient in this enzyme.
The symptoms of lactose intolerance are uncomfortable and, at times, embarrassing. You may experience gas, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea in as little as 30 minutes after consuming food with lactose in it.
You may wonder whether you have a food allergy, celiac disease, or whether you’re actually lactose-intolerant. Let’s talk about how your gastroenterologist can test you to determine what is causing your GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms, and where you can go for world-class gastroenterological treatment right here in Greater Cleveland.
Lactose Intolerance Tests
The tests that are used to diagnose lactose intolerance are easy and convenient. The most common tests for lactose intolerance include a blood test and a hydrogen breath test:
In this test, you will first be given a liquid containing high levels of lactose. Then, the specialist will take a blood sample and test (at timed intervals) for a rise in glucose levels. If the glucose levels do not rise, then lactose intolerance is confirmed.
Hydrogen Breath Test
The most commonly used lactose-intolerance test is the hydrogen breath test. Similar to a blood test, you will be given a liquid containing high levels of lactose. Then, the doctor measures the amount of hydrogen present in your breath at timed intervals.
High levels of hydrogen in your breath indicate that the lactose from the drink is not being digested and absorbed by your body. Usually, lactose that isn’t digested is fermented by bacteria, which causes you to produce hydrogen gas.
To get the most accurate results, patients are usually provided guidelines prior to the test. Generally, patients are asked to fast for 12 hours before a hydrogen breath test and to avoid eating high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, fruit and vegetable juices, nuts, and dairy products for a certain period of time before the test, because these can affect the results of the test. The test will take about three hours.
GI Doctors in Brooklyn and Westlake, OH
Our trusted gastroenterologists here at North Shore Gastroenterology are experts at diagnosing and treating all types of digestive disorders, including lactose intolerance and milk allergies. We also make sure to address any underlying health conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
While there is no cure for lactose intolerance, you can prevent or reduce the severity of your symptoms and live comfortably by following several simple dietary restrictions. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with a GI doctor, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at (440) 808-1212 or by filling out our easy-to-use online request form now. We look forward to helping you feel much, much better!