Lactose Intolerance

There are 3 kinds of lactose intolerance test.  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 anything 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 lactose intolerance.Lactose intolerance happens because of the body’s inability to produce lactase.  Lactase is needed to break down the lactose.

    If the blood sugar lactose tolerance test was inconclusive you may then be offered a hydrogen breath test.

    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 breathe out.

    This test can also be used in the detection of other illnesses.

    Stool Test

    Lactose IntoleranceAnother 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.

    Once the stool sample has been collected it will be sent to the lab for diagnosis.

    The bowel will produce lactic acid amongst others; this in turn is found in the stools.  You will be advised to give your child the sugary drink (milk, sugar, lemon juice) before you collect the stool sample.  If acids are found to be present in the sample this may mean that you are lactose intolerant.

    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 diarrhoea.  If you require more information on lactose intolerance your doctor or other health professional will be happy to help.