If you experience distressing but not dangerous digestive symptoms, such as nausea, cramps, and diarrhea after consuming milk or dairy product, you aren’t alone. Approximately 36% of Americans and 68% of the world population experience some level of lactose intolerance at some point in their life.
Lactose intolerance is a condition that refers to insufficient lactase – an enzyme that breaks dairy sugar, namely lactose – production in the body. Lactose intolerance testing is specified to ensure that your digestive symptoms are due to lactose intolerance.
Let’s talk about what happens during a lactose intolerance test, how it is performed, and where you can go in Ohio for advanced gastro care.
Lactose Intolerance Test: What Is It?
A lactose intolerance test is an easy and convenient test that your doctor performs to know if your nausea, gas, bloating, cramps, or diarrhea are due to insufficient production of lactase enzyme in your body. Lactose intolerance tests are noninvasive and performed in office settings. The most common test for diagnosing lactose intolerance is the hydrogen breath test.
Let’s talk about the hydrogen breath test and how it is performed.
Hydrogen Breath Test
A hydrogen breath test is a simple way to determine if you’re lactose intolerant. The hydrogen breath test measures the amount of hydrogen gas in your breath at regular intervals. The test shows how well your body can digest lactose and whether you’ve a high number of certain bacteria (bacteria that ferment lactose sugar) in your small intestine.
When you consume milk or other dairy products, the lactose in them is digested in the small intestine by the lactase enzyme. However, if it is not digested due to the deficiency of lactose, it passes down to your larger intestine (colon). In the colon, bacteria ferment lactose and produce hydrogen as a byproduct of the fermentation reaction. This extra hydrogen produced in your gut is absorbed in the blood and travels to your lungs, where it is released when you exhale.
Hydrogen Breath Test Procedure
During a hydrogen breath test, several samples of your breath are taken over a specified period of time.
- You will be asked to breathe in a balloon-like container or bag.
- You will be asked to drink a beverage containing a known amount of dairy sugar in it.
- You will be asked to breathe into the bag about every 30 minutes for the next 3 to 4 hours.
To establish the results, your exhaled breath before and after drinking the beverage will be compared.
What Do the Hydrogen Test Results Mean?
Your hydrogen breath test results may vary depending on your age, gender, and health history.
For your result to be normal, the amount of hydrogen in your exhaled breath after drinking a beverage should be no more than 20 parts per million(ppm). However, if you have a large amount of hydrogen in exhaled breath, you are lactose intolerant.
Lactose Intolerance Testing Near Me in Westlake and Brooklyn, Ohio
At North Shore Gastroenterology, our highly experienced and skilled gastroenterologists are experts at diagnosing and treating digestive disorders, including lactose intolerance. After diagnosing your lactose intolerance, our trusted gastroenterologists will provide several simple dietary restrictions to prevent or reduce your lactose intolerance symptoms.
We look forward to having you!