Introduction To Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance refers to the inability of one’s body to digest lactose i.e. a natural sugar present in dairy products, including the milk. However, it is somewhat different from food allergy towards the milk. Whenever lactose moves from colon i.e. large intestine of a person without undergoing proper digestion, it causes many uncomfortable symptoms. These include bloating, belly pain and gas.
Even a few people suffering from lactose intolerance fail to digest any of the milk products, while other individuals may have relatively less amount of dairy/milk products or only specific type of milk related items without any issue. The problem of lactose intolerance is common among adults than in children. Lactose intolerant individuals have to deal with the biggest challenge i.e. know about the way to avoid feelings of discomfort and at the same time, intake calcium in enough amounts to achieve healthy bones.
Lactase Deficiency in Small Intestine Causes Lactose Intolerance
People often suffer from lactose intolerance fail to digest lactose (milk’s sugar content) completely. Because of this, they often suffer from bloating, gas and diarrhea after they drink or eat any dairy product. Doctors call this condition as lactose malabsorption, which is harmless but it comes with various uncomfortable symptoms.
The problem of lactose intolerance takes place because of lactase deficiency in the small intestine of a person. Here, lactase refers to an enzyme formed in the small intestine. A large number of individuals have low lactase levels, but they can digest milk/dairy products without any health issue. On the other side, in case of lactose intolerant people, lactase deficiency results in symptoms just after having any dairy product.
Is There A Test To See If You Are Lactose Intolerant?
During the initial stage, doctors may ask you a few questions related to the symptoms of your lactose intolerance problem. Even your doctor may recommend for avoiding a few dairy products for a specific period to observe whether there is any improvement in your symptoms or not. Based on the obtained results, improvement of symptoms or no improvement, doctors recommend for different tests, as we have discussed here.
Confirmation About The Problem
Doctors may confirm the diagnosis of lactose intolerance by conducting any one or all of the tests, as mentioned here-
Lactose Tolerance Test
Lactose tolerance test gauges the reaction of one’s body to any liquid that contains lactose in high levels. After 2 hours a patient had the liquid, one will undergo for blood tests to measure the exact amount of glucose present in the bloodstream. In case the glucose level does not rise, it indicates that the body fails to digest and/or absorb the drink filled with high levels of lactose.
Hydrogen Breath Test
Alternatively, doctors recommend for hydrogen breath test to detect and confirm lactose intolerance in patients. According to this test, patient has to intake liquid containing lactose in higher levels. Later on, doctor measures the hydrogen content in your breath at different regular intervals. In normal conditions, hydrogen is detectable from your breath in a small amount. On the other side, if the body of a patient shows improper digestion of lactose, it causes fermentation in the colon, leading to the release of hydrogen and other gases absorbed by the large intestines and exhaled eventually. Hence, larger amount of exhaled hydrogen than normal amount measured at the time of your test indicates that you are unable to digest and absorb lactose completely.
Stool Acidity Test
Even though the problem of lactose intolerance, as discussed earlier often take place among adults. However, in some cases, the problem may even take place in children and infants. In case of lactose intolerance among children and infants, doctors recommend for stool acidity test, as they are unable to undergo with any other test.
Fermentation of lactose in undigested form creates lactic acid as well as other acids, which doctors/pathologists may detect from the collected stool samples.