Sucrose Intolerance in Adults
If you’ve been living with frequent gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as chronic diarrhea, gas and bloating, your online search for clues may have led you to this site. Chances are, you’ve never heard of Sucrose Intolerance. After all, it’s a rare disease that is often mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease. But Sucrose Intolerance due to Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID) is a real disorder, with the capacity to disrupt your day-to-day life.
Sucrose Intolerance in Adults
One form of Sucrose Intolerance is called Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID). CSID is a genetic disorder of the small intestine that limits your ability to break down sugars (sucrose) or starches. Those of you with CSID lack or have low levels of the digestive enzymes sucrase and isomaltase. When these enzymes are not functioning properly, the sugars and starches you eat end up in your large intestine and can result in watery diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
Sucrose is often found in produce, especially starchy fruits and sweet vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, and in legumes, peas, lentils, and soybeans. It’s also frequently added, in the form of table sugar, to processed foods, such as candy, ice cream, sweetened beverages, and breakfast cereals.
Is There a Test for Adults with Sucrose Intolerance?
As an adult, you can be tested for Sucrose Intolerance several ways. Some of you find success in obtaining a diagnosis by seeing a gastroenterologist. After conducting a physical examination and asking key questions about your clinical, dietary, and family health history, your gastroenterologist may order one of the following tests.
The first test is called an upper gastrointestinal endoscopic procedure. During this test, your physician uses a long tube called an endoscope to see what’s going on in your intestines and take a few, very small samples of the tissue lining the walls of your small intestine. A lab then analyzes the tissue samples for levels of sucrase and isomaltase enzyme activity. The upper gastrointestinal endoscopy is considered the definitive test for diagnosing Sucrose Intolerance caused by CSID.
Your doctor may also order a breath test, such as the Sucrose Hydrogen Methane Breath Test or the 13C-Sucrose Breath Test, to assess your possible intolerance to sucrose. Both tests are based on the gas content in your exhaled breath. They involve drinking a specific amount of a solution containing sucrose or sucrose labeled with naturally occurring 13C, respectively. If you have a true intolerance to sucrose, you may experience a recurrence of uncomfortable GI symptoms during or shortly after the test.
Lastly, you may use an at-home Sugar Challenge Test. In this test, you stir 4 tablespoons of table sugar into 4 ounces of water and drink the solution on an empty stomach. GI symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhea, or gas occurring during the next 4 to 8 hours, suggest that you are unable to digest and absorb sucrose. Although this is not a definitive test for Sucrose Intolerance caused by CSID, if you do have these GI symptoms after performing this test, you should go to your doctor and ask if you could possibly have CSID.
All three of these tests involve consuming large amounts of sucrose that may cause significant GI discomfort. For this reason, these tests are not appropriate for infants, young children, or geriatric patients. You should talk to your doctor before taking any of these tests.
Chronic GI symptoms can be frustrating and troublesome, but several tests may help diagnose Sucrose Intolerance caused by CSID. Take this quiz and ask your gastroenterologist if one of these tests is right for you.
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