Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol often used in as a sweetener in candy and diabetic food, has been attributed to the occurrence of certain allergic reactions, known as sorbitol intolerance. Sorbitol is commonly used in the production of chewing gum, sugar-free sweets, and diabetic & diet foods, among other food types. It is produced naturally by the human body, and also occurs in beer, fruits and berries. You can also find it in certain medicines, such as cough syrups, mouth washes and laxative, and cosmetic products. As compared to normal household sugars, sorbitol is less probable to cause dental carries and also has fewer calories. It absorption rate in the small intestine is much slower than normal sugars. As result, this allows even moderate doses to reach the colon for fermentation. A big number of healthy individuals can develop gas, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, and cramps due to a consumption of 5g and above of sorbitol. This is what is referred to as sorbitol intolerance.
Prevalence of Sorbitol Intolerance
More than 50 percent of adults will experience bouts of sorbitol intolerance, after consuming more than 10g of sorbitol. Sorbitol intolerance is more prevalent among black people and Asians, than in white people. This condition is also present in more than 70 percent of reported Irritable Bowel Syndrome cases.
Symptoms of Sorbitol Intolerance
Some of the major symptoms associated with the condition include abdominal pain and cramps, bloating, gas production, a lot of intestinal sounds and nausea. These symptoms bear a huge resemblance to those exhibited by people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, 70 percent of IBS cases are linked to sorbitol intolerance. There is very little data on the long term effects of sorbitol intolerance, though extreme weight loss is often attributed to the condition. People suffering from diabetes, who already have a high concentration of glucose, do not fair favorably with sorbitol intolerance, often leading to nerve and eye damage.
Testing and Diagnosis Sorbitol Intolerance
A careful analysis of the patient’s history and their reaction to certain food types may help to elaborate the source of the condition. Breath tests also effective and non-invasive tests for identifying sorbitol intolerance. Medical technicians can also perform various blood and stool tests to determine blood glucose levels.
Management of Sorbitol Intolerance
Individuals suffering from the condition are advised to reduce their intake of sorbitol to tolerable levels. This could either take the form of a change of diet or medicines. Always check with qualified doctor, on the proper action to take as per your case.
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