Hydrogen and Methane breath tests are used as an aid to help clinicians asses patients with various digestive disorders. This breath test is most beneficial in diagnosing SIBO.
Here is why:
There are many testing methods for looking at bacteria in the gut. The most common are: Endoscopy with culture, Breath test, Stool analysis and Organic Acid testing. This tables shows the pros and cons of each of the testing methods.
What is SIBO?
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO): Like the name suggests, SIBO is where bacteria enter your normally sterile small intestine and begin to colonize. Studies have indicated that potentially up to 80% of patients with IBS may in fact have SIBO.
Common symptoms and reasons to test for SIBO: nausea, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, malnutrition, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), Leaky Gut Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Acid Reflux, Rosacea, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), Fibromyalgia, Gastroeseophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Celiac Disease & Diverticulitis.
SIBO Breath Test
Breath testing measures the Hydrogen (H) & Methane (M) gas produced by bacteria in the small intestine that has diffused into the blood, then through the lungs, for expiration. H & M are gases produced by bacteria, not by humans. The gas is graphed over the SI transit time of 2 or 3 hours & compared to baseline (or first breath sample). Patients drink a sugar solution of glucose or lactulose after a 1 or 2 day preparatory diet. The diet removes much of the food that would feed the bacteria, allowing for a clear reaction to the sugar drink.
How is the test performed?
The test is performed at home with a take home kit. It takes 1-3 hours in the morning after a 12 hour fast the night before and a special diet the day before.
The test will be interpreted by one of our physicians and an explanation of the test will be given. Treatment plans are up to your prescribing physician.
How does the Breath Test Work
There Hydrogen and Methane breath test can be used to diagnose SIBO.
Here is how:
- Bacterial overgrowth produces excess quantities of Hydrogen and/or Methane gas.
- These gases are not produced by humans but are the metabolic byproducts of carbohydrates produced by intestinal bacteria.
- The breath test measures these gases and is therefore an indirect test; What is nice about the breath test is that it specifies which gases are present, as well as the location and severity of SIBO.