How to Diagnose and Treat Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a really prevalent situation, affecting 57% of the world’s inhabitants, being extra widespread in Asia and Africa. It is a scientific situation related to lactose malabsorption due to low/absent lactase exercise. Lactose or its synthesis.

Lactose is a disaccharide composed of galactose and glucose, present in milk and dairy merchandise. Lactase is an enzyme genetically encoded on chromosome 2 and expressed within the small gut, notably the jejunum. Some genetic polymorphisms are related to decreased expression.

But learn on: Gluten and the danger of gastrointestinal neoplasms

Clinical Manifestations

Symptoms often seem when lactase exercise is lower than 50%. They happen as a result of unabsorbed lactose has an osmotic impact on the intestinal lumen, as well as to fermentation by the intestinal microbiota, which, as well as to diarrhea, will increase the manufacturing of gases corresponding to H2 and CH4, stomach ache and distention.

The severity of signs will depend on a number of components, corresponding to:

  • focus of lactase within the intestinal mucosa;
  • composition of intestinal microbiota;
  • the focus of ingested lactose;
  • gastrointestinal motility;
  • Individual sensitivity to signs

In lactose intolerance, there’s additionally a rise within the manufacturing of gear corresponding to acetone, acetaldehyde, ethanol and different poisonous peptides. Thus, extra intestinal signs may happen: reminiscence loss, complications, musculoskeletal ache, coronary heart rhythm problems, melancholy, anxiousness, oral mucosal ulcers, dyspareunia, menstrual problems, frequency, rashes, eczema and different pathologies (primarily based on allergy symptoms). rhinitis, bronchial asthma).

These sufferers even have alterations within the intestinal microbiota, that are linked to poisonous metabolites, main to an elevated incidence of sure cancers corresponding to colorectal most cancers. However, we must always not neglect about the advantages of dairy merchandise, that are wealthy in calcium and comprise carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.

Diagnostic strategies for lactose intolerance

When lactose intolerance is clinically suspected, diagnostic strategies must be used to affirm it.

  • Genetic testing – genetic analysis by way of a blood pattern (DNA). Look for the presence of particular polymorphisms.ifics (eg 13910 C>T and 22018 G>A).
  • Advantage: permits you to affirm or exclude major lactose intolerance; A bit aggressive.
  • Disadvantages: It doesn’t enable identification of secondary kinds; The presence of the polymorphism will not be related to the event of lactose intolerance.
  • Breath take a look at with H2 – This is a stimulation take a look at that measures expired hydrogen earlier than and after ingestion of 25 or 50 grams of lactose. In people with lactose intolerance, a rise in expired H2 of not less than 20 ppm from baseline is predicted.
  • Advantage: Non-invasive and cost-effective methodology. High sensitivity and specificity. Easy implementation and interpretation.
  • Disadvantages: Long period (3-6 hours).
  • Onotice: Some people have microbiota that predominantly produce CH4. In this instances, trial Respiratory fee with H2 could also be falsely detrimental. Thus, including H2 and CH4 breath exams will increase accuracy.
  • vital: Changes in microbiota and intestinal transit can intrude with take a look at accuracy. Note some precautions shut to the examination, corresponding to: avoiding using oral antibiotics, probiotics, laxatives and PPIs; Avoid strenuous bodily train; give up smoking
  • Rapid lactase take a look at – an invasive methodology that evaluates lactase exercise in roughly 2 mm samples of post-bulbar duodenal tissue. In lactose intolerance, it’s anticipated to be absent or decreased.
  • Advantage: High specificity.
  • Disadvantages: Invasive, costly and poorly out there methodology.
  • Oral lactose tolerance take a look at – evaluation of serum glucose 30-60-120 minutes after ingestion of fifty g of lactose. This is to be anticipated in lactose intolerance to occur Changes in blood glucose.
  • Advantage: low price; A minimally invasive take a look at.
  • Disadvantages: Low sensitivity and specificity – up to 20% false optimistic or detrimental. Interference has to be tolerated due to this fact gastric emptying time and glucose metabolism, and shouldn’t be carried out in people with diabetes.


  • Nutritional Management: Because of the advantages of dairy merchandise as a supply of calcium, protein, and minerals, dietary administration presently goals to keep a low day by day consumption of dairy merchandise to keep away from creating signs of intolerance within the affected person. Most people are ready to tolerate 12-15 grams of lactose per day. Currently, there are options to the exogenous lactase enzyme within the dairy market, sustaining its dietary advantages.

The desk beneath exhibits some low/zero lactose choices:

substance Possible choices
milk Lactose free milk
Vegetable “milk” (soy, rice, spelt, almond, coconut, oat)
Lactose free yogurt
butter Lactose free butter
ghee butter
100% vegetable margarine
Powdered milk Lactose free powdered milk
Plant-based milk powder
Cheese Naturally lactose-free cheese
“Deslactosados” Quiche

Adapted from the desk: Dominici S, et al. Lactose: Features, meals and drug-related purposes and its potential options to meet the wants of individuals with lactose intolerance. substance 2022

  • Exogenous lactase in lactose-containing meals: There are capsules, tablets and liquid formulations available in the market. It is obtained by way of the metabolism of sure microorganisms, viz Kluyveromyces lactis, Aspergillus oryzae, And Aspergillus niger.
  • Probiotics: stress like Lactobacillus spp. (L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. casei, and so on.), Bifidobacterium longum spp., Streptococcus thermophilus and Saccharomyces boulardii. TheActs as an antagonist of gas-producing micro organism, regulates the permeability of the intestinal mucosa and reduces the degrees of short-chain fatty acids within the intestines, is lowering as a result of Abdominal ache and diarrhea.
  • Vitamin B6: Adding vitamin B6 to probiotics has been proven to be helpful in lactose intolerance, as it really works by enhancing the intestinal microbiota.
  • Prebiotics: They are digestible oligosaccharides, containing fructans and galactans, which stimulate the expansion and proliferation of the lactose fermenters Bifidobacterium, Faecalibacterium and Roseburia spp.

Practical message

Lactose intolerance is a quite common situation, which will be major or secondary. Symptoms range in accordance to particular person traits and the lactose content material of meals. Currently, essentially the most indicated diagnostic methodology is Breath take a look at with expired H2. Ideally, a methane breath take a look at must also be carried out to keep away from false negatives associated to plant composition.

However, in observe, it’s typically troublesome to supply this take a look at, due to the dearth of protection within the SUS and the restricted availability of complementary well being. As flawed because the oral lactose tolerance take a look at is, it could assist when different strategies should not out there (except for diabetic sufferers, the place it shouldn’t be carried out).

The mainstay of therapy is to cut back lactose consumption, present meals options and take care not to limit calcium and protein consumption. Currently, exogenous lactase enzymes are the perfect adjuncts within the administration of those sufferers.

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