Lactose intolerance or Lactase Deficiency
Lactose intolerance is also called Lactase Deficiency, is caused when your body is not able to naturally digest or metabolize a type sugar called lactose which is commonly found in milk and milk products. Lactose intolerance in fact is a fairly common condition. However, you should always seek the advice of your doctor or a health care professional to help you figure out if you are suffering from Lactose intolerance or some other condition.
So if you happen to be lactose intolerant what causes the unpleasant symptoms? The answer is simple. The condition is actually caused by a deficiency of lactase, an enzyme which normally is produced by the cells lining your stomach. The lactase enzyme’s job is to break down lactose, a complex sugar found in milk into two simpler sugars, glucose and galactose. When the Lactase does it job the two simpler forms of sugar can then be properly metabolized and absorbed into the bloodstream. The good news is once you know you have a lactose problem there are many ways to live a normal lactose-free life!
some people find they can decrease their symptoms simply by consuming milk or milk products with other foods during a meal rather having them on their own. some individuals find relief when they carefully choose what milk products to eat such as yogurt or hard cheese that have lower levels of lactose than other milk products.
Individuals who still experience symptoms even after making minor changes to their diet can also take over-the-counter medicines. These preparations contain lactase, the missing enzyme which causes lactose intolerance and the unpleasant symptoms. This remedy can be taken while consuming your regular milk or milk products.
Lactose intolerance tests
There are 3 kinds of lactose intolerance tests. These tests discover if our bodies can adequately break down the lactose.
Blood sugar lactose tolerance test.
- In the hours leading up to a lactose intolerance test the individual must not consume any foods or liquids, this is usually only for the 12 hours prior to the test.
- Now you will have a small amount of blood taken, this is usually a finger prick test. This is usually very quick and does not hurt. This measures the blood sugar level, as you have not eaten or drank any thing this will give an accurate reading of blood sugar levels.
- The individual is then asked to drink a sugary drink, this is most often milk with some sugar and a bit of lemon juice. You are then asked to wait 1 hour.
- Another small amount of blood will be taken from the tip of your finger. If the blood sugar level does not change from what it previously was this may indicate a lactose intolerance.
Hydrogen Breath Test.
- As with the blood sugar test no foods or liquids are to be consumed in the 12 hours prior to the test.
- After this time a sample of breath is then measured to see what the levels of hydrogen are. This provides them with a baseline so they can then do the rest of the test. Then you will again be asked to drink a sugary drink.
- After the consumption of this sugary drink breath samples will be taken over 2 hours, usually every 15 minutes.
- If the body is unable to process the sugar, metabolism takes over and the lactose is turn into hydrogen gas in the stomach. This gas is then released when you breath out.
Another test which may be carried out is a stool test. This stool test measures acidity, this is more commonly given to children under the age of 5. This requires the parent to collect a stool sample from the child, this is particularly easy if the child is wearing a nappy/diaper. If this is not the case then you will need a container for an older child to use when the go to produce the sample.
A lactose intolerance test may only be carried out if the symptoms of the intolerance are constant. In a child this can be hard as they can often have sickness and diarrhea. If you require more information on lactose intolerance your doctor or other health professional will be happy to help.