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Home Symptoms Poor Indicator of Lactose Malabsorption

Scores for home symptoms worse than those reported after lactose challenge test

THURSDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Daily life subjective symptoms associated with lactose intolerance are often worse than symptoms after a lactose challenge test and are not a good indicator of true lactose malabsorption, according to research published in the July issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Francesc Casellas, M.D., of the Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues conducted an observational study of 353 patients referred for a lactose hydrogen breath test. Each patient completed a questionnaire regarding symptoms after ingestion of dairy products at home. They then underwent a 50-g lactose breath test. After the lactose challenge, patients again filled out the same questionnaire regarding symptoms associated with the lactose challenge.

The researchers found that the overall symptom scores for home symptoms were significantly higher than the symptom scores for lactose challenge symptoms (16 versus 8), as were the scores for intensity of symptoms for lactose absorbers compared with malabsorbers (16 versus 4), and for lactose tolerants compared with intolerants (12 versus 2).

"Daily life symptoms that patients associate with lactose intolerance are often unrelated to lactose malabsorption. Even among true lactose malabsorbers, symptom recall tends to be amplified by the patient. Thus, conventional anamnesis is a highly unreliable tool to establish symptomatic lactose malabsorption," the authors write.

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