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Lactose Intolerance Testing

Hydrogen Breath Test
The hydrogen breath test measures the amount of hydrogen in a person's breath.
Very little hydrogen is normally detectable. However, undigested lactose in the colon is fermented by bacteria and produces various gases, including hydrogen. The hydrogen is absorbed from the intestines, carried through the bloodstream to the lungs, and then exhaled.
In this test, the person drinks a lactose-loaded beverage and the breath is analyzed at regular intervals. Raised levels of hydrogen in the breath indicate improper digestion of lactose. Certain foods, medications, and cigarettes can affect the accuracy of the test and should be avoided before taking the test. People should check with their doctor to make sure they are not taking medications that may interfere with test results.
The lactose tolerance and hydrogen breath tests are not given to infants younger than six months of age. A large lactose load can be dangerous prior to this age, as infants are more likely to become dehydrated from diarrhea, which can be caused by lactose intolerance.
Stool Acidity Test
To test for lactose intolerance in infants and young children, the stool acidity test may be used. This test measures the amount of acid in the patient's stool. Undigested lactose, fermented by bacteria in the colon, creates lactic acid and other fatty acids that can be detected in a stool sample. Glucose may also be present in the sample as a result of unabsorbed lactose in the colon.
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Lactose Intolerance Information

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