If after consuming some of your favorite dairy foods – such as ice cream or milkshakes – you always find yourself needing a trip to the bathroom, you may be lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is defined as the inability to digest lactose, which is the main type of sugar found in dairy products.
The small intestine normally produces lactase to break down lactose in food. However, for many people, their body does not produce enough lactase – and so the undigested lactose results in gastrointestinal problems such as gas, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.
The good news is that there are many food products on the market which act as great substitutes for milk products, such as soy-based and almond-based milk. These are not made with dairy at all, such as cow’s milk or goat’s milk.
Let’s talk about why you would consider getting tested for lactose intolerance, and where you can go in Greater Cleveland for outstanding gastroenterological care so you can avoid those stomachaches.
Can You Suddenly Become Lactose Intolerant?
Yes. Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed in childhood, but you can develop this over time. Adults who once were able to enjoy dairy products without any issues can become lactose intolerant as their body produces less lactase from getting older.
Do You Need to Get Tested for Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is not life-threatening. However, if the issue is actually a milk allergy, that could be a life-threatening problem – so it does warrant gastroenterological testing and diagnosis.
If the symptoms of lactose intolerance are interfering with your daily life or causing you embarrassment when you are out with people, then getting tested for it means you can also receive effective treatment and avoid embarrassing situations.
A test may confirm lactose intolerance or another gastrointestinal issue. After all, lactose intolerance shares symptoms with other gastrointestinal (GI) issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other food sensitivities and allergies.
Lactose intolerance symptoms typically appear within two hours of ingesting food or drink that contains dairy. If you cut out dairy and still experience the same GI symptoms, chances are it’s not lactose intolerance.
How Is Lactose Intolerance Tested?
Lactose intolerance is usually tested using a hydrogen breath test, which is a very simple test that checks for lactase deficiency. This is how it works:
- You will be asked to drink a solution that contains glucose or lactose.
- Next, you will be asked to blow up a bag that looks like a balloon to collect a breath sample.
- Several breath samples will be collected every 15 to 20 minutes until the three-hour mark.
- Then, the breath samples will be tested for hydrogen. If the body does not digest lactose, the lactose will instead be fermented by bacteria, and gases such as hydrogen will be present in your breath.
Lactose Intolerance Testing in Brooklyn and Westlake, OH
Here at North Shore Gastroenterology, our board-certified GI specialists are highly experienced in diagnosing and treating lactose intolerance. If you are confirmed to be lactose intolerant, we will create an individualized treatment plan that helps you manage your lactose intolerance so you can continue to enjoy your life.
For over 25 years, our gastroenterologists have served patients in the Brooklyn and Westlake community. To schedule an appointment, call us today at (440) 808-1212 or use our convenient appointment request form online now. We look forward to helping you feel much, much better!