Lactose intolerance is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders, affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. This condition arises from an enzyme (lactase) deficiency in the gut, either a result of genetics or a temporary irritation of the small intestine. Without adequate amounts of lactase, the digestive system is unable to properly break down and absorb lactose, the main sugar in milk and dairy products. When this happens, unabsorbed lactose is fermented by bacteria in the colon, causing the release of hydrogen and methane gases.
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance May Include:
- Abdominal cramps
By disrupting intestinal absorption, lactose intolerance may also trigger a shortage of critical nutrients. Eventually the digestive system may become weakened and made more susceptible to parasite infection, as well as yeast and bacterial overgrowth.
Importance of Testing for Lactose Intolerance
When lactose intolerance is properly diagnosed, the patient is easily treated with dietary or supplement modifications. However, misdiagnosis of lactose intolerance often occurs because primary symptoms often overlap with those of other conditions. Studies indicate that up to 70% of lactose intolerant patients do not relate their symptoms to lactose ingestion.
Milk and dairy products are often considered important sources of nutrients for children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and older adults. For these individuals, lactose intolerance testing is important to prevent the unnecessary elimination of such products from the diet.
Advantages of the Breath Hydrogen/Methane Test for Lactose Intolerance
- It is a highly sensitive and specific gastrointestinal test to identify lactose malabsorption
- It is a simple and non-invasive test
- It is well tolerated by patients of all ages
- Demonstrates increases in hydrogen and methane arising from bacterial fermentation of undigested lactose which show up in the breath within one to two hours after exposure
Lactose Intolerance Testing is Recommended for All Patients with:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Infectious diarrhea
- Intestinal parasites
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Chronic alcohol use
- Radiation therapy
- Drug use, including antibiotics
With proper diagnosis provided by this breath test, lactose malabsorption and its accompanying symptoms may be substantially alleviated using dietary, lifestyle, and supplement intervention (including the ingestion of protective friendly gut flora.)
Test Type: Breath Test