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Diagnosing Lactose Intolerance

A diagnosis of lactose intolerance isn’t life-threatening but can cause some concern for the individual suffering from symptoms. Not being able to eat or drink foods containing lactose without suffering uncomfortable side effects can be daunting. Life style changes must be made in order to live more comfortably.

Lactose (or the sugar found in dairy products and more) is the culprit that causes symptoms. Your doctor may suggest a complete avoidance of any dairy products for a period of time to see if your problem eases. Two weeks is normally enough time to make a difference in how you feel. If your symptoms go away during this time it will be relatively easy for the doctor to reach a diagnosis of lactose intolerance.

Testing your breath for hydrogen is another method to determine your lactose tolerance. Aptly called the hydrogen breath test, you are given a high lactose drink many times over the course of  a few hours. If there are higher than normal levels of hydrogen in your breath in about 5 hours later you are definitely have a problem digesting lactose. Since hydrogen in the breath is normally very low, any substantial amount points to lactose intolerance.

Blood tests are another method used to diagnose lactose intolerance. Your blood is drawn before the test after fasting and the amount of sugar in the sample is measured. You will be given a liquid that contains a high amount of lactose. You will give another small blood sample a few hours later. Since blood sugar rises after consuming a sugar laden drink your levels should be considerably higher. If not, it is safe to say that you are lactose intolerant. Your physician will suggest dietary changes to relieve (or even eliminate) your symptoms. Dietitians are available to help get you back on track.