Functional Diagnostic Assessments

SIBO Breath Test

What is SIBO

If you’re feeling bloated after every meal or frustrated when eating out, shopping for groceries or cooking, SIBO testing may reveal answers to your digestive concerns. SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, is caused when bacteria that are normally present in the large intestine start to grow in the small intestine. This causes problems because many of these bacteria and other single cell organisms called archaea ferment sugars to produce gasses.

The presence of these gasses, usually hydrogen and methane, can cause a whole range of symptoms such as:

  • Pain in the stomach, especially after eating
  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Regular feeling of fullness
  • Gas

The good news about SIBO is that it can be diagnosed and treated. Diagnosis involves a simple breath test that can be done at home. The patient is asked to drink some sugar solution and then blow into a series of test tubes over a couple of hours. The gas in the test tubes is analyzed and if the hydrogen and methane levels are high that usually indicates SIBO.

Testing procedure

Dr. Gupta, ND will provide you with a test kit that includes:

  • 10 breath sample vials
  • a mouthpiece for sample collection
  • 10 ml lactulose solution
  • pre-paid Purolator packaging for sample pick up
  • a complete instruction pamphlet for proper collection

The procedure involves the patient ingesting a lactulose solution, followed by a collection of breath samples every 20 mins for 3 hours. The breath samples are assessed for hydrogen and methane gas, and the gasses are graphed out over the transit time of the small intestine and compared to baseline.

SIBO Treatment

After obtaining your results, we can determine if SIBO is the underlying issue at hand and if so, which type of bacteria are the causative agents. Depending on the results, a specific course of antimicrobials will be prescribed along with dietary modifications to aid in eliminating the bacteria. Eventual food reintroduction will also be part of the treatment after healing the gut lining and reinoculating the flora with probiotics.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is SIBO?

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition characterized by an abnormal increase in the number and/or type of bacteria in the small intestine. This overgrowth can lead to various digestive symptoms and nutrient malabsorption.

2. What are the common symptoms of SIBO?

Common symptoms of SIBO include bloating, abdominal pain or discomfort, diarrhea, constipation, gas, belching, and fatigue. These symptoms may worsen after eating certain types of foods, particularly those high in fermentable carbohydrates.

3. How is SIBO diagnosed?

SIBO is typically diagnosed through a breath test, which measures the amount of hydrogen and methane gas produced by bacteria in the small intestine after ingesting a substrate such as lactulose or glucose. Elevated levels of these gases indicate bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.

4. What is a SIBO breath test?

A SIBO breath test is a non-invasive diagnostic test used to detect bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. During the test, the individual ingests a substrate such as lactulose or glucose, and breath samples are collected at regular intervals over a period of several hours. The breath samples are then analyzed for levels of hydrogen and methane gas, which are byproducts of bacterial fermentation.

5. How is a SIBO breath test performed?

A SIBO breath test is typically performed at home or in a healthcare provider’s office. The individual fasts overnight and then drinks a solution containing a substrate such as lactulose or glucose. Breath samples are collected at baseline and at regular intervals over a period of two to three hours. The samples are then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

6. What do elevated levels of hydrogen and methane on a SIBO breath test indicate?

Elevated levels of hydrogen and/or methane gas on a SIBO breath test indicate bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Hydrogen gas is produced by bacteria that ferment carbohydrates, while methane gas is produced by bacteria that metabolize hydrogen. The presence of both gases suggests a mixed population of bacteria.

7. Are there any limitations to SIBO breath testing?

While SIBO breath testing is a valuable diagnostic tool, it has some limitations. False positives and false negatives can occur, and results may be influenced by factors such as recent antibiotic use, dietary restrictions, and underlying gastrointestinal conditions. Additionally, interpretation of test results should be done in conjunction with clinical symptoms and other diagnostic tests.

8. Can SIBO be treated without testing?

While SIBO testing can provide valuable information for guiding treatment, some healthcare providers may opt to treat suspected SIBO based on clinical symptoms and response to treatment without formal testing. Treatment typically involves dietary modifications, antimicrobial therapy, probiotics, and lifestyle changes aimed at reducing bacterial overgrowth and improving gut health.

9. Can SIBO testing be done at home?

Yes, SIBO breath testing kits are available for home use and can be ordered through healthcare providers or directly from testing laboratories. These kits typically include detailed instructions for performing the test at home and collecting and submitting breath samples for analysis.