7 Frequently Asked Questions About Lactose Intolerance Tests
Stomachaches, gas, loose stools - there are plenty of unfortunate consequences of lactose intolerance.
But how do you know if you're actually lactose intolerant? What if you're just prone to having stomach issues?
If you're experiencing chronic digestive discomfort, then you should consider lactose intolerance tests. Especially if you feel discomfort after ingesting a lot of dairy.
Give yourself the best chance for comfort. Sometimes, taking a test can do just that.
So keep reading for seven frequently asked questions about lactose intolerance tests. Afterward, you'll be ready to change your lifestyle and diet for the better.
What is Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance refers to a body's inability to digest lactose, a natural sugar in dairy products. When a lactose-intolerant person ingests lactose, the lactose will move through the digestive system without proper digestion.
Is Lactose Intolerance an Allergy?
No. Allergies are defined by an immune system's misguided reaction to typically harmless substances. A severe allergic reaction can cause anaphylactic shock, which can turn lethal.
Instead, lactose intolerance can be extremely uncomfortable. But while it causes discomfort, it usually does not result in serious medical consequences.
Who is at Higher Risk for Lactose Intolerance?
The most defining factor for lactose intolerance is ethnicity. Those of Asian, Hispanic, African, and Native American descent are at higher risk of lactose intolerance than others.
A less common factor is premature birth. That's because the small intestine typically develops cells that produce lactase late into the third trimester. But babies born before that period don't usually have the chance to develop enough of those cells.
However, these are only risk factors, not risk guarantees. It's possible for an individual to meet all these criteria but not have lactose intolerance. Also, people can also meet none of these criteria and still develop lactose intolerance.
What Causes Lactose Intolerance?
The body's inability to digest lactose starts with the small intestine. Once again, the small intestine has the responsibility of developing cells that produce lactase. Lactase is necessary for breaking down lactose.
We've already covered demographics that are at higher risk for lactose intolerance. But lactose intolerance can also be inherited from a parent. For that reason, lactose intolerance very commonly runs in families.
But sometimes, people can experience brief periods of lactose intolerance without experiencing it chronically. That's because conditions like short-term illness, especially stomach illnesses, can cause the small intestine to stop developing lactase-producing cells.
However, long-term illnesses can also cause long-term lactose intolerance. In these cases, lactose intolerance typically lasts as long as the illness does. However, long-term illnesses may persist for life.
What are the Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance?
When the body cannot break down lactose, individuals can suffer a variety of gastrointestinal problems. Some of these symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps
These symptoms appear quite quickly after lactose ingestion. For that reason, it can be easy to tell whether someone has lactose intolerance.
However, some people are less lactose intolerant than others and are comfortable ingesting a small amount of dairy and milk. Not only that, but some milk and dairy products are naturally low in lactose.
Butter, probiotic yogurt, and hard cheeses are all low in lactose. Many lactose-intolerant people can digest these products with no problem. There may be individuals that are extremely lactose intolerant, but these foods are generally safe for most lactose-intolerant people to consume.
Are there Lactose Intolerance Lab Tests?
Yes! Although it can be easy to tell whether someone is lactose intolerant, lactose intolerance tests still have additional benefits.
This test won't only let you know if you're lactose intolerant. It will also let you know how well your body digests lactose. You can figure out the severity of your tolerance with some simple tests.
There are three types of lactose intolerance testing. The first is the more common stool test and is available to order directly at Ulta Lab Tests. The stool test is conducted as follows:
- 10g of fresh stool is collected in a plastic, leak-proof container.
- Adults older children can pass their fecal samples into plastic wrap stretched loosely over the toilet bowl.
- Unabsorbed lactose in stool samples could indicate a variety of metabolic abnormalities. One of these abnormalities is the lack of lactase.
The hydrogen breath test is conducted as follows:
- Patient breathes into a container
- They then drink a lactose-containing liquid
- Throughout this time, testers will test hydrogen levels throughout this process
- If hydrogen levels increase after ingesting lactose, then that's an indication of lactose intolerance
The blood test is conducted as follows:
- A series of blood samples are taken before and after patient ingests lactose.
- If there is too much glucose in your blood, then lactose has not broken down enough, indicating lactose intolerance
Is there a Cure for Lactose Intolerance?
There is no "cure" for lactose intolerance, but there are many ways to make the condition more tolerable. Such methods include:
- Limiting milk/dairy intake
- Consuming milk/dairy products formulated to be lactose-free
- Taking tablets/powders that contain lactase when ingesting dairy
- Taking probiotics to improve digestive response
For most people, lactose intolerance does not severely impact the quality of their life. The most serious treatment is eliminating milk and dairy altogether, which is getting easier due to the increase in milk/dairy alternative products.
Sign up for Lactose Intolerance Tests Today!
At Ulta Lab Tests, we offer highly accurate and reliable tests - including lactose intolerance tests. Not only that, but we provide confidential results and don't require insurance or physician referrals. To top it off, our testing service is the most affordable out there.
After you get tested, your confidential results will be delivered online to your private patient portal within 24 to 48 hours for most tests. So take control over your health by ordering a lactose intolerance test now.