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Lactose Intolerance Test

The mission of lactose intolerance is to provide free information and knowledge for success starting today about lactose intolerance test and getting healthy plus more . . . Drawing of the digestive tract. The stomach, liver, large intestine, small intestine, appendix, and anus are labeled. Lactose intolerance is a surprisingly common issue relating to being unable to easily digest the sugar known as lactose, a sugar that is found in dairy products. Lactose intolerance is from a shortage or lack of lactase enzymes. Lactase break down to sugars: galactose and glucose. These simpler sugars then flow into our blood. It’s often tricky to diagnose lactose intolerance because symptoms can be very similar to other digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.

The Digestive Tract

Not all people with lactase deficiency have digestive symptoms, but those who do may have lactose intolerance. Most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate some amount of lactose in their diet.

People sometimes confuse lactose intolerance with cow milk allergy. Milk allergy is a reaction by the body's immune system to one or more milk proteins and can be life threatening when just a small amount of milk or milk product is consumed. Milk allergy most commonly appears in the first year of life, while lactose intolerance occurs more often in adulthood.

What are the Causes of Lactose Intolerance?

The cause of lactose intolerance is best explained by describing how a person develops lactase deficiency.

Primary lactase deficiency develops over time and begins after about age 2 when the body begins to produce less lactase. Most children who have lactase deficiency do not experience symptoms of lactose intolerance until late adolescence or adulthood.

Researchers have identified a possible genetic link to primary lactase deficiency. Some people inherit a gene from their parents that makes it likely they will develop primary lactase deficiency. This discovery may be useful in developing future genetic tests to identify people at risk for lactose intolerance.

Secondary lactase deficiency results from injury to the small intestine that occurs with severe diarrheal illness, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or chemotherapy. This type of lactase deficiency can occur at any age but is more common in infancy.

People at Risk for Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a common condition that is more likely to occur in adulthood, with a higher incidence in older adults. Some ethnic and racial populations are more affected than others, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, and Asian Americans. The condition is least common among Americans of northern European descent.

Infants born prematurely are more likely to have lactase deficiency because an infant's lactase levels do not increase until the third trimester of pregnancy.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

People with lactose intolerance may feel uncomfortable 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming milk and milk products. Symptoms range from mild to severe, based on the amount of lactose consumed and the amount a person can tolerate.

Common symptoms include

  • abdominal pain
  • abdominal bloating
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • nausea

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Lactose Intolerance Tests

Lactose intolerance can be hard to diagnose based on symptoms alone. People may think they suffer from lactose intolerance because they have digestive symptoms; however, other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome can cause similar symptoms. After taking a medical history and performing a physical examination, the doctor may first recommend eliminating all milk and milk products from the person’s diet for a short time to see if the symptoms resolve. Tests may be necessary to provide more information.

Two tests are commonly used to measure the digestion of lactose.

Hydrogen Breath Test. The person drinks a lactose-loaded beverage and then the breath is analyzed at regular intervals to measure the amount of hydrogen. Normally, very little hydrogen is detectable in the breath, but undigested lactose produces high levels of hydrogen. Smoking and some foods and medications may affect the accuracy of the results. People should check with their doctor about foods and medications that may interfere with test results.

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Stool Acidity Test. The stool acidity test is used for infants and young children to measure the amount of acid in the stool. Undigested lactose creates lactic acid and other fatty acids that can be detected in a stool sample. Glucose may also be present in the stool as a result of undigested lactose.

Because lactose intolerance is uncommon in infants and children younger than 2, a health professional should take special care in determining the cause of a child’s digestive symptoms.

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