Diarrhea, abdominal distention, cramps, flatulence and general discomfort may be caused by lactose intolerance in some patients. In the past patients were instructed to delete milk products from their diets and see if it had an effect.
There are a number of problems with this method:
1) Eliminating milk products completely proves to be extremely difficult for most patients;
2) Lactose is present in many unsuspected foods and drugs, making the most diligent patients attempts to comply impossible.
Calcium, vitamins and other nutritional benefits of milk are an important part of diet, especially for women and growing children. A relationship between lactose malabsorption and post-menopausal osteoporosis have been reported making an arbitrary decision to withdraw milk from the diet inadvisable without a demonstrated reason.
Malabsorption tests can provide an indication of the severity of the lactose deficiency and may indicate the patients possibility of including some milk in the diet without generating symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Most gastroenterologists have accepted the hydrogen breath test as the method of choice for diagnosing lactose intolerance. It is not only more accurate, but is non-invasive as well. Our particular testing machine not only looks for hydrogen, but also measures methane gas that can only occur in up to 20 percent of lactose intolerant patients. In other words, a patient who is lactose intolerant may only produce methane. There exist less expensive test units that only measure hydrogen and may, in fact, miss the diagnosis of lactose intolerance.
We test for lactose intolerance, in conjuction with Commonwealth Laboratories, but we also offer breath testing, using the substance called lactulose, for detection of bacterial overgrowth that is being recognized more and more as a significant factor in the mechanisms underlying the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS patients suffer from abdominal bloating and pain, irregular bowels habits, and often alternating diarrhea and constipation. There is a growing popularity in identifying bacterial overgrowth in patients with IBS symptoms and treating this overgrowth with special antibiotics that target this intestinal overgrowth of bacteria. Clinical studies have shown an improvement in subsets of IBS patients who have bacterial overgrowth. Naturally, those suffering from these symptoms should see their doctor or contact our office for a comprehensive evaluation.
The protocol for the test is simple; nothing by mouth after midnight, no smoking for 1/2 hour prior to and during testing, no napping during the examination and no exercising prior to or during the examination. Detailed instructions are included with the test kits.
Please give the office a call to arrange for a lactose intolerance test. It is usually covered by most insurance companies, is non-invasive in nature, and may prove to be the answer to your needs. We are available to answer any questions you may have as well.