Your doctor just told you he wants to perform an upper endoscopy on you because you have had unexplained abdominal pain for a long time. Or maybe it was diarrhea that is responding poorly to treatment.
Regardless, an upper endoscopy is a medical procedure in which a tiny camera placed at the end of a long, thin tube is gently inserted down your throat so your doctor can see what is going on in your digestive system. The endoscopy will allow your doctor to see your digestive system through a TV monitor. It is just like watching a TV show, but the show is your digestive system. Your doctor may also take a tissue samples, called a biopsies, of your digestive system during the procedure. Check out the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy to learn more about an upper endoscopy.
The biopsies, which are small and painless, can provide important information about your health. One test called a disaccharidase (dye-sack-a-rye-days), or disacch (dye-sack), test measures the gut levels of proteins that help to digest the sugars that you eat. One of the ‘sugar digesting proteins’ digests sucrose, or table sugar, and also helps to digest starches, such as those found in rice and grains. The typical American consumes about 60% of their calories in the form of carbohydrates, with about 30% of the carbohydrate calories coming from sucrose and about 60% from starch. You can imagine how important it is to your digestive health to be able to digest table sugar and starches because both are a large part of the average diet.
One of the reasons that a physician will run a disacch test is to see if you may have a sugar intolerance, such as sucrose intolerance. If you do have a sucrose intolerance not related to another condition, then you may have Genetic Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency, also known as GSID. If you have GSID, a physician, such as a gastroenterologist, can help you manage this condition. Check out https://www.sucroseintolerance.com/ for more information.
It is important before your upper endoscopy procedure that you ask your doctor if he or she plans to run a disacch test. The test can only be run using biopsies collected from this procedure. After you get the results from the test, you will have a better idea of whether you have sufficient numbers and the right types of enzymes in your gut to digest sucrose and starches. This information will help you and your doctor manage your stomach problems. Knowing can be a big relief especially if you have had stomach problems that are difficult to manage.
If you doctor did not run a disacch test, do not worry because there are other tests that can, along with other information, help your doctor diagnose whether you have GSID. These include a breath test that you take at home and a genetic test. While the results of these tests cannot diagnose GSID by themselves, they may be important information for your doctor to have.