What is a hydrogen and methane breath test for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth?
The Hydrogen and Methane Breath Test for SIBO is a non-invasive diagnostic tool to identify SIBO, and can be administered in the comfort of a patient’s own home. Patients are given a substrate solution to drink, which is a mixture of water and a carbohydrate substrate (lactulose or glucose). After drinking the substrate solution, the patient will collect a series of breath samples by simply breathing into a test tube using a straw. In a healthy individual, one would not expect to see any hydrogen or methane in the breath samples for approximately 90 minutes – 2 hours, the approximate time it would take for the substrate to travel to the small intestine to the colon where, in a healthy system, the substrate would be fed upon by bacteria, thus releasing the hydrogen and methane gas. After ingesting a substrate solution, the patient collects breath samples every 15 minutes over a 2 hour and 15 minute (135 minutes) period. During the hydrogen and methane breath test for SIBO, the presence of elevated levels of hydrogen or methane gas, or both, identified within 90 minutes of ingesting the substrate solution provides evidence of bacteria in the upper region of the digestive tract, i.e. at the level of the small intestine. This excessive build up bacteria is often diagnosed as SIBO.
Patients suffering from malabsorption experience a variety of symptoms, including:
• Abdominal cramps
• Nausea, and sometimes, vomiting