Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in mild and milk products. A lactose tolerance test is a breath test used to help diagnose the condition. The test is performed in our Fairfield office. Patients are given a lactose-loaded drink, and then their breath is analyzed at regular intervals to measure the amount of hydrogen. Undigested lactose produces high levels of hydrogen, and so a high level of hydrogen detected in the breath would indicate lactose intolerance. The test is completely non-invasive, but can take a few hours, so bring along a good book! For more information, please refer to the NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) website.
A similar breath test is performed at Gastroenterology Associates to diagnose bacterial overgrowth, a condition in which there are more bacteria than would be expected in your small bowel. In a bacterial overgrowth test, lactulose (a sugar that is similar to lactose) is used as the substrate. After the patient drinks the lactulose, measurements are taken to assess the amount of hydrogen produced. The results are interpreted by your doctor to help determine whether or not you need to be treated for small bowel bacterial overgrowth.