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Am I Lactose Intolerant?

Is your morning latte suddenly making your stomach do flips? Do you experience gastrointestinal upset whenever you enjoy a cheesy slice of pizza? Any gastroenterologist knows that this can be disheartening; fortunately, they can help provide the relief you need so that you can go back to enjoying the foods and drinks you love. But first, it’s important to know whether you should come in for an evaluation.

Do I have lactose intolerance?

Since many things can cause an upset stomach and GI distress, it can be difficult to know whether or not it’s dairy that’s truly the culprit. Of course, if you experience any of these symptoms about 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming dairy products, then it’s time to speak with one of our doctors to find out if it could be lactose intolerance. Here are some of the symptoms you might experience after ingesting dairy products: 

  • Belly and stomach cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Bloating

How is lactose intolerance diagnosed?

If you suspect that you might be lactose intolerant, it’s a good idea to start tracking everything from whether you consumed milk or other dairy products beforehand and what symptoms you are experiencing to what medications or vitamins you are currently taking.

Our gastroenterologists can determine whether or not you have lactose intolerance through these simple tests:

Lactose tolerance test: This is the most commonly used diagnostic test, which requires the patient to consume a liquid containing a high concentration of lactose. Once consumed, we will perform blood tests to see how glucose within the body reacts to lactose. If glucose levels stay the same rather than rising then your body isn’t able to digest lactose properly.

Hydrogen breath test: Another test in which you have to consume a lactose-filled drink, the hydrogen breath test uses your breath rather than your blood to check hydrogen levels. Bodies that don’t digest lactose properly will affect the colon, which in turn will produce hydrogen and other gases that go through the gastrointestinal system and out through your breath. By measuring the amount of hydrogen on your breath we can also determine whether you might be lactose intolerant.

Stool acidity test: This is most commonly used in infants and young children who may be lactose intolerant. If lactose isn’t digested properly it will create lactic acid within the stool, which can then be tested and detected.

How is lactose intolerance treated?

Avoiding lactose is often the simplest way to prevent symptom flare-ups. These days, there are a ton of lactose-free and dairy-free milk, cheeses, and ice creams, so you shouldn’t have to necessarily cut foods you love from your diet; however, there are over-the-counter supplements that you can take beforehand that can help you better digest dairy if you do decide to eat out or treat yourself to some ice cream.

If you are dealing with digestive issues that you think could be caused by dairy, then it’s a good idea to turn to a gastroenterologist who can perform the appropriate diagnostic testing to determine what’s causing your issues.

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