How the test works
After you have placed your order, you will receive a test kit with everything you need to do the test by yourself, except for milk (550 ml) which you need to acquire on your own. The test is a breath test that measures the concentration of hydrogen and methane gas after drinking 550 ml of milk. The sample is collected on five occasions over three hours. It is best if you take the sample on an empty stomach and avoid eating and drinking during the test period. Your samples will be sent to our lab for analysis and you will get your test result digitally, after the lab has analyzed your samples.
The lactose intolerance test
Lactose intolerance means that the small intestine has a reduced ability to break down milk sugar, lactose. The symptoms are stomach pain, diarrhea and flatulence. Lactose intolerance is harmless but can be very bothersome for the person affected. It is common to confuse lactose intolerance with cow’s milk allergy (also called milk protein allergy and milk allergy) which causes similar problems but is treated differently. We at GetTested can with the help of a simple breathing test find out if you are lactose intolerant through our Lactose Intolerance test.
Causes of lactose intolerance
Being lactose intolerant means that you are hypersensitive to lactose (milk sugar). Lactose is a carbohydrate found naturally in milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerance is caused by lactase deficiency, which means that you are deficient in the enzyme, lactase, which breaks down lactose in the small intestine. The body then finds it more difficult to assimilate the nutrients that lactose provides. Without enough lactase enzyme, the lactose remains undigested in the small intestine. When lactose is passed on to the large intestine, intestinal bacteria will instead break down lactose that has not been digested, which causes gases to form thatcan lead to stomach cramps and diarrhea. To get rid of the problems, it is necessary to reduce or exclude food and drinks that have lactose in them. When the amount of lactose in the food is reduced or eliminated completely, the symptoms often disappear.
Lactose intolerance is very uncommon among children under five. If a child has problems with the stomach, it is more often due to cow’s milk allergy, but there can of course be other causes. It is therefore important to be diagnosed correctly so that you then exclude the right food to get rid of the problems. Below you can read about different causes of lactose intolerance.
Primary lactose intolerance
Primary lactose intolerance is the most common type of lactose intolerance. It is hereditary and more common in Asia, Africa and southern Europe. Primary lactose intolerance is due to reduced production of the enzyme lactase which is needed to break down milk sugar, also known as lactose. It is usually in between the kid to young adult years that the lactase production begins to decrease in people with heredity for lactose intolerance. For people with primary lactose intolerance, it is common to have problems with foods that contain a lot of milk sugar, such as milk. On the other hand, foods that don’t contain that much milk sugar often work well. Examples of such foods are hard cheese, yoghurt, butter and sandwich margarines that contain butterfat.
Secondary lactose intolerance
Secondary lactose intolerance, also known as temporary lactose intolerance, occurs if the small intestinal mucosa is damaged due to any untreated intestinal disease or parasitic infection. An example of such a disease is gluten intolerance where gluten causes inflammation that breaks down the intestinal lining in the small intestine. Meaning that nutrients cannot be absorbed. Secondary lactose intolerance generally goes away when the true cause of the problem has been treated and the intestinal damage is healed.
Congenital lactose intolerance
Congenital lactose intolerance is very uncommon and means that the body can not produce lactase at all. Unlike primary and secondary (temporary) lactose intolerance, congenital lactose intolerance is a disease. It is genetically transmitted and is noticed already after birth. The baby gets watery diarrhea as soon as it starts eating breast milk or breast milk substitute. In order for the baby to avoid the problems, lactose-free breast milk replacement is required. People with congenital lactose intolerance usually need to eat food with as little milk sugar as possible throughout life.
Lactose intolerance and cow’s milk allergy
Many people confuse lactose intolerance with cow’s milk allergy (also called milk protein allergy or milk allergy) even though they are two completely different things. If you have an allergy to milk protein, you don’t tolerate the proteins in the milk. Unlike lactose intolerance where it is the milk sugar, or lactose, which causes problems. Milk protein allergy is due to the body’s immune system reacting to one or more proteins found in milk. The immune system then produces special antibodies, so-called Immunoglobulin (IgE), which then activate immune cells in the body that cause inflammation. The symptoms are vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea and skin reactions in the form of eczema and hives and in some cases asthma or anaphylactic reactions. For sensitive milk allergy sufferers, very small amounts are sometimes required to get a reaction. People with milk protein allergies are completely advised against eating and drinking dairy products. Dairy and goat milk products must also be excluded. Also dairy products that are lactose-free and lactose-reduced.
As the symptoms of lactose intolerance and cow’s milk allergy are similar, it is therefore very important to seek help and take blood samples to establish the correct diagnosis. GetTested offers both allergy tests and lactose intolerance tests.
Difference in measuring lactose intolerance via breath tests and DNA tests
With lactose intolerance, you have more hydrogen in the exhaled air after drinking 550 ml of milk, as a lack of the enzyme lactase (which is to break down the lactose) meaning that the lactose is not broken down properly and can ferment and form gases in the colon.
On the other hand, a DNA test for lactose intolerance only shows if you have hereditary lactose intolerance but not if you actually suffer from it.