Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for tag: Lactose Intolerance

By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
March 30, 2022
Lactose IntolerantIs your morning latte suddenly making your stomach do flips? Do you experience gastrointestinal upset whenever you enjoy a cheesy slice of pizza? Any gastroenterologist knows that this can be disheartening; fortunately, they can help provide the relief you need so that you can go back to enjoying the foods and drinks you love. But first, it’s important to know whether you should come in for an evaluation.

Do I have lactose intolerance?

Since many things can cause an upset stomach and GI distress, it can be difficult to know whether or not it’s dairy that’s truly the culprit. Of course, if you experience any of these symptoms about 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming dairy products, then it’s time to speak with one of our doctors to find out if it could be lactose intolerance. Here are some of the symptoms you might experience after ingesting dairy products: 
  • Belly and stomach cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Bloating
How is lactose intolerance diagnosed?

If you suspect that you might be lactose intolerant, it’s a good idea to start tracking everything from whether you consumed milk or other dairy products beforehand and what symptoms you are experiencing to what medications or vitamins you are currently taking.

Our gastroenterologists can determine whether or not you have lactose intolerance through these simple tests:

Lactose tolerance test: This is the most commonly used diagnostic test, which requires the patient to consume a liquid containing a high concentration of lactose. Once consumed, we will perform blood tests to see how glucose within the body reacts to lactose. If glucose levels stay the same rather than rising then your body isn’t able to digest lactose properly.

Hydrogen breath test: Another test in which you have to consume a lactose-filled drink, the hydrogen breath test uses your breath rather than your blood to check hydrogen levels. Bodies that don’t digest lactose properly will affect the colon, which in turn will produce hydrogen and other gases that go through the gastrointestinal system and out through your breath. By measuring the amount of hydrogen on your breath we can also determine whether you might be lactose intolerant.

Stool acidity test: This is most commonly used in infants and young children who may be lactose intolerant. If lactose isn’t digested properly it will create lactic acid within the stool, which can then be tested and detected.

How is lactose intolerance treated?

Avoiding lactose is often the simplest way to prevent symptom flare-ups. These days, there are a ton of lactose-free and dairy-free milk, cheeses, and ice creams, so you shouldn’t have to necessarily cut foods you love from your diet; however, there are over-the-counter supplements that you can take beforehand that can help you better digest dairy if you do decide to eat out or treat yourself to some ice cream.

If you are dealing with digestive issues that you think could be caused by dairy, then it’s a good idea to turn to a gastroenterologist who can perform the appropriate diagnostic testing to determine what’s causing your issues.
By Nashville Gastrointestinal Specialists
December 03, 2019
Category: Gastroenterology

Lactose intolerance is the body's inability to properly digest lactose, a type of sugar that is present in milk, cheese, and other dairy-based items. This is due to a deficiency in lactase, a digestive enzyme present in the small intestine. Some people are affected with lactose intolerance from birth, while others develop the condition later in life. This acquired intolerance may be due to the quality and quantity of the enzyme breaking down, or it may be a secondary response to another digestive problem such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease. Lactose intolerance varies in intensity, but it can cause bloating, gas, stomach cramps, and diarrhea within two hours of eating or drinking dairy products. A common digestive issue, it has been estimated that 65 percent of the world's population has some form of lactose intolerance.

Testing for lactose intolerance often starts with the patient ingesting dairy products in a clinical setting so the physician can observe the results. Determining if the intolerance is due to enzyme deficiency or an underlying condition, as mentioned above, is also essential. One of the most reliable tests involves measuring the level of hydrogen in a person's breath after drinking a lactose solution. Hydrogen is a byproduct of the bacteria in the digestive system if lactose cannot be processed efficiently.

Blood tests are another way that doctors can determine lactose intolerance. Over a period of hours and several draws, the sugar in the blood—glucose—will rise slowly in patients who are lactose intolerant. The easiest and most accurate test for infants is a stool acidity test; those whose bodies cannot process lactose will have a low pH level in their stools due to the presence of acid.

People who are diagnosed with lactose intolerance often find that avoiding foods with dairy products is the easiest way to manage their condition. Lactase replacement medication is also available over-the-counter; these supplements can be taken just before consuming a meal with dairy products to temporarily colonize the digestive system with lactase enzymes.

By Nashville Gastrointestinal Specialists Inc
June 03, 2019
Category: GI Conditions

When people experience frequent bouts of flatulence, abdominal bloating, cramps, and diarrhea, it's disconcerting and sometimes unpredictable. Your gastroenterologist may review your symptoms and do some in-office testing to determine if you have lactose intolerance. It's a common GI condition in which the body produces the lactase enzyme in insufficient amounts. Fortunately, the teens and adults who develop it can manage the symptoms and feel good.

The details on lactose intolerance

The digestive enzyme, lactase, is produced in the small intestine. When it encounters lactose, the carbohydrate in dairy products such as milk and ice cream, it breaks down the sugar into a highly usable form. If, however, lactase is insufficient, the milk sugars will cause those uncomfortable GI symptoms within a half an hour or so.

While cheese and yogurt also are dairy products, they go through a fermentation process which limits their lactose content. As such, people who are lactose intolerant can consume these dairy items comfortably, says Genetics Home Reference.

Besides happening in young adulthood, lactose intolerance seems to run in families, particularly if as infants, individuals appeared unable to digest breast milk or formula properly. Additionally, some research shows this gastrointestinal problem may occur after an abdominal injury, reports John Hopkins Medicine.

Diagnosing and managing lactose intolerance

Your gastroenterologist will review your symptoms, their severity and timing. Also, he or she may run a lactose intolerance test in which you consume a liquid with high levels of lactose. Through the course of two hours, the doctor measures your blood sugar levels. High readings indicate lactose intolerance.

In addition, a hydrogen breath test pinpoints lactose intolerance. For babies and young children, a stool acidity test uncovers this common GI disorder.

To manage lactose intolerance, your doctor will recommend some diet modifications, such as eliminating as much dairy as possible. Checking food labels for dairy content helps, as well as switching to almond or soy milk and taking supplements such as Lactaid which boost lactase levels in the gut.

See your gastroenterologist

Your GI doctor wants you to have healthy digestion and a varied diet. Be sure to see him or her right away if you experience symptoms of lactose intolerance so you can feel your very best.

By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
March 02, 2018
Category: GI Care

Tummy troubles? When some people are diagnosed with celiac disease, they also discover that they are lactose intolerant and have difficulty digesting milk and dairy products. Read on to learn all about lactose intolerance and celiac disease and their symptoms. Gastroenterologists are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive disorders, including lactose intolerance and celiac disease.

Lactose Intolerance Overview

Lactose intolerance is a condition in which people have digestive symptoms after eating or drinking milk or dairy products. People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest the sugar in dairy products. Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of an enzyme in the body called lactase. Lactose intolerance is not serious. Your doctor may do a breath, blood or stool test to find out if your problems are due to lactose intolerance.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

After drinking or eating dairy products, you may feel sick to your stomach. You may also have loose stools or diarrhea, gas, pain, or cramps in the lower belly, rumbling or gurgling sounds in the lower belly. or swelling in your stomach. If you are lactose intolerant, you may still be able to eat or drink small amounts of milk. Some individuals do better if they have dairy with a meal.

Celiac Disease Overview

Celiac disease is a disorder triggered by consuming a protein called gluten, which is rye, barley, and wheat. When an individual with celiac disease eats foods that contain gluten, an abnormal immune reaction is triggered that damages a small part of the intestine called villi. Long-term complications of celiac disease include intestinal cancer, liver disease, and malnutrition, which can lead to osteoporosis and anemia. The longer people go untreated, the greater the risk for long-term complications.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Many individuals with celiac disease have no symptoms. Digestive symptoms, including stomach bloating, flatulence, pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and irritability are more common in children. Adults may experience numbness in hands and feet, joint or bone pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, canker sores inside the mouth, seizures, itching, and a skin rash.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of lactose intolerance or celiac disease, make an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Get your life back on track by receiving the best treatment available. A visit to the gastroenterologist will bring all the relief you need, with little hassle or expense.

By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
February 16, 2018
Category: GI Care

Sometimes nothing sounds better than a generous helping of ice cream. Of course, if you are lactose intolerant this may sound like a one-way ticket to gastrointestinal distress. Lactose intolerance is an issue in which the body has trouble digesting lactose, a naturally occurring substance found within dairy products. Since the lactose isn’t fully digested before it enters the intestines, this can lead to some rather unpleasant GI tract symptoms such as,

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pains and cramping
  • Stomach noises
  • Diarrhea or watery stools
  • Nausea or vomiting

While noticing these symptoms only once doesn’t necessarily mean that you are lactose intolerant, if you notice these symptoms every time you consume milk, yogurt, ice cream or other dairy products then you may be suffering from lactose intolerance. Just keep in mind that lactose intolerance is not the same as a food allergy.

If you suspect that you may be lactose intolerant, it’s a good time to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist. When you come in for a diagnostic evaluation there are several tests that may be performed to determine if your symptoms are caused by lactose intolerance. Tests include the hydrogen breath test, stool acidity test or lactose tolerance test. We will also ask specific questions regarding your symptoms.

Since there is no way to retrain your body so that it can digest lactose easily, you will have to make changes to your diet to ensure that you don’t experience these distressing symptoms. The most obvious change you can implement is to avoid milk and dairy products, particularly in large quantities. If you do want to consume dairy products do so while eating other foods, which may lessen your symptoms.

We know that giving up ice cream and dairy products can be a challenge; fortunately, there are so many different products on the market that do not contain lactose and are digestive-friendly for those with lactose intolerance. Some people also find relief in taking an over-the-counter lactase enzyme medication (e.g. Lactaid®) before consuming dairy products.

Lactose intolerance can vary from person to person. Some people only experience mild, self-limiting symptoms while others experience more severe problems. If you are experiencing intestinal issues every time you consume dairy products it’s a good time to have this problem checked out.