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Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1996;108(6):175-9.

Evaluation of the pathogenesis of flatulence and abdominal cramps in patients with lactose malabsorption.

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  • 1Medizinische Universit√§tsklinik, Graz.


Aim of this study was to assess whether the interindividual differences in the development of flatulence and cramps in patients with lactose malabsorption are due to the quantity of malabsorbed lactose or gas accumulation, or if accelerated intestinal transit or increased perception of gas might play a role. Hydrogen breath tests were performed in 43 patients with lactose malabsorption after ingestion of 50 g lactose and, on a separate day, 25 g lactulose. The unabsorbed amount of lactose, small bowel transit time and colonic hydrogen accumulation were assessed in patients who did and did not develop flatulence and cramps after ingestion of lactose. The unabsorbed amount of lactose, small bowel transit time and volume and rate of colonic hydrogen accumulation were the same in patients who did or did not have symptoms after lactose. Patients with flatulence and cramps had a significantly longer time interval between the onset of the increase and peak breath hydrogen concentration (p < 0.05) and a significant correlation between the time of occurrence of peak symptoms and the time of peak breath hydrogen concentration (r = 0.75, p < 0.001). Our data suggest that subjective symptoms of lactose intolerance are not due to the amount of malabsorbed lactose or to the volume or rate of gas accumulation per se, but are related to increased perception of gas.

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