Leaky gut syndrome, or LGS, causes a wide variety of symptoms such as skin rashes, brain fog, constipation, diarrhea, and food sensitivities. Since these symptoms are also caused by other medical conditions, it is often difficult to pinpoint leaky gut as the cause of your problems. If you suspect you have LGS, talk to your doctor about being tested. He or she may recommend the lactulose/mannitol urine test. Here is some information about how it works.
Testing Intestinal Permeability
The lactulose/mannitol urine test uses two types of sugars to determine the permeability of your gut. Lactulose molecules are large and mannitol molecules are small. When you take this test, you drink a solution that contains a specific amount of each type of sugar. Your doctor may give you the sugar packet to take home so you can mix the solution to drink several hours before you go to the lab for the test. You may also need to follow orders for what you can eat and drink before and after taking the sugar solution. You then provide a urine sample that is analyzed for levels of each type of sugar.
Interpreting The Results
By using two sizes of molecules in this test, the doctor gets a general idea of the size of particles that can pass through your intestinal lining and into your bloodstream. If the small mannitol molecules are lower in number than expected, it could indicate permeability is low and you could have problems with malabsorption and poor nutrition. If the number of large lactulose molecules in your urine is higher than normal, it indicates your gut is leaky and letting molecules pass into your bloodstream that would normally be blocked. Both types of sugars can be elevated or lower than normal. Therefore, the test results provide a ratio of lactulose to mannitol molecules in your urine. The doctor can compare this value to the ratio of the molecules in the test solution you drank to determine if you might have leaky gut syndrome.
Diagnosing Leaky Gut
While a positive result on the lactulose/mannitol test is often seen in people with LGS, it isn't a 100% reliable diagnostic tool. Instead, your doctor looks at the test results as well as your medical history and symptoms to come up with the diagnosis. This may also entail ruling out other medical conditions such as irritable bowel disease or gluten sensitivity. Since a diet low in inflammatory foods is one treatment for leaky gut, your doctor may even recommend you begin this treatment for LGS if the condition is suspected. If you improve with dietary treatment, it could be a positive sign that helps your doctor make the final diagnosis of leaky gut syndrome.
Just as the condition is often difficult to diagnose, it is often difficult to treat. Some things your doctor may try is a strict diet that allows the intestinal lining to heal along with probiotics and supplements that support intestinal health. Over time, your gut lining can normalize, and your doctor may want to monitor your progress through periodic testing with the lactulose and mannitol drink. Click here to learn more about leaky gut syndrome test.