Health Questions and Answers

Question: After avoiding dairy products, the patient’s symptoms have disappeared. Does this confirm the diagnosis of lactose deficiency?


No. The diagnosis cannot be made simply by advising the patient to avoid dairy products for 2 weeks to determine if the altered bowel habits revert to normal because many patients who respond to these manipulations are actually not lactase deficient. The diagnostic test to be used is the lactose hydrogen breath test.

Reference:  Sleisenger MH, Fordtran JS (eds): Gastrointestinal Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Management, 7th ed. Philadelphia, W.B. Saunders, 2003.

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