Gas.Bloating.Diarrhea. Cramps. If you regularly experience these symptoms after consuming dairy products, you may be lactose intolerant. One of the easiest ways to confirm this is with lactose intolerance testing at your GI doctor’s office. The test is relatively easy, and here’s how you prepare for it.
Why Should I Get Lactose Intolerance Testing?
Lactose intolerance testing with your gastroenterologist is a simple and effective way to determine if you lack a certain digestive enzyme. The enzyme in question is lactase, and it breaks down the sugar called lactose. Lactose is a key component of dairy products, such as milk, ice cream, cheese, and more.
When someone’s digestive system, or gut, cannot properly process lactose, typically it is due to insufficient lactase production. Lactase is naturally produced within the gut and is used to break down lactose-containing foods.
Lactose intolerance can develop at any time throughout your life – although adults in or approaching mid-life seem more susceptible to it. The signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, excessive flatulence, diarrhea, as well as some degree of intestinal cramping. These symptoms usually begin within a couple of hours of consuming dairy products.
Unfortunately, people with insufficient lactase may begin avoiding foods that contain dairy and may experience malnutrition as a result. Plus, avoiding certain foods can adversely affect bone health – which is especially important in middle age – and may increase the risk of osteoporosis.
How to Prepare for Lactose Intolerance Testing
Your GI specialist may recommend a hydrogen breath test, which can determine whether you are lactose intolerant.
This simple test measures the level of hydrogen gas (H02) in your breath. There is typically not much H02 in exhaled breath. High levels of it may indicate a problem in your gut – specifically, that you are not effectively digesting lactose-containing foods.
To prepare for the hydrogen breath test, you will be asked to avoid chewing gum, eating high-fiber foods, or using mouthwash for a full 24 hours before your in-office GI appointment. Your doctor will also require a period of fasting, from 8 to 12 hours prior to your arrival at the GI clinic.
At the clinic, you will breathe into a special machine to provide a baseline measure of H02 in your breath. Then, you will consume a sugar solution containing lactose. After that, you will periodically provide a breath sample every 15-30 minutes over the next 2-3 hours. You may be asked to record any symptoms you experience during the test.
Testing for Lactose Intolerance in Brooklyn and Westlake, OH
GI symptoms like excessive flatulence and diarrhea are no fun. Once you know for sure that the cause of your symptoms is lactose intolerance, there are a variety of things you can do to reduce or eliminate these symptoms. Knowledge is power. Ask about lactose intolerance testing and find out whether you have this common GI condition – and what your doctor recommends to treat it.
Lactose intolerance is one of many GI conditions the board-certified gastroenterologists and GI providers at NorthShore Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Centers regularly assess, diagnose, and treat. We work out of two state-of-the-art locations, in Westlake and Brooklyn, Ohio. We are proud to be affiliated with Cleveland Clinic.
To learn more about the hydrogen breath test or other diagnostic GI services we offer, please contact us at (440) 808-1212, or request a visit online. We are honored to assist you in enjoying the best digestive health possible.