Updated: 12/15/2021

Lactose Intolerance

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  • Snapshot
    • A 31-year-old female presents to the clinic complaining of intermittent diarrhea for the past 2 months. She endorses bloating, cramping, and flatulence during these episodes but denies any hematochezia or melena. When ask about any clear precipitating factors, she reports that it is usually following yogurt or cheese intake.
  • Introduction
  • Presentation
    • Symptoms
      • abdominal pain
      • bloating
      • flatulence
      • diarrhea
      • vomiting
  • Studies
    • Diagnostic testing
      • diagnostic approach
        • diagnosis is primarily based on clinical presentation
      • studies
        • lactose-free diet
          • diagnostic and therapeutic
        • lactose breath hydrogen test
          • best confirmatory test
          • rise in breath hydrogen following ingestion of lactose is considered diagnostic
        • oral lactose load
          • best initial test
          • observation for symptoms following lactose load
        • small bowel biopsy
          • rarely performed due to invasive nature
          • helps distinguish primary and secondary lactase deficiency
  • Differential
    • Celiac disease
      • distinguishing factors
        • clinical history of gluten ingestion with symptoms
        • negative breath testing results
  • Treatment
    • First-line
      • dietary lactose restriction
      • enzyme replacement
        • commercially available lactase enzyme preparations are available to take orally with lactose-containing food
  • Complications
    • Electrolyte abnormalities

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(M2.GI.15.18) A 6-year-old girl is brought to the pediatrician for the first time by her mother. Her mother states that her family just emigrated from China and her daughter has seemed to have difficulty adjusting to the American diet. Specifically, she seems to have abdominal discomfort and increased flatulence whenever she eats milk or cheese. The pediatrician orders a test to diagnose the patient. Which of the following results is most likely to be observed in this patient?

QID: 106091

Negative hydrogen breath test

11%

(3/28)

Abnormal small bowel biopsy

7%

(2/28)

Positive hydrogen breath test

71%

(20/28)

Positive technetium 99 scan

7%

(2/28)

Abnormal abdominal ultrasound

0%

(0/28)

M 6 E

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