What is SIBO?
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is defined as an increase in the number of bacteria, and/or changes in the types of bacteria present in the small intestines. In most people, SIBO is not caused by a single type of bacteria , but is an overgrowth of the various types of bacteria that are normally found in the large intestine [colon], which normally DO NOT reside in the small intestines. Compared to the large intestines, the small intestine is relatively sterile but in SIBO bacteria from the colon move into the small intestines and start to colonize it leading to symptoms & related health problems.
To put this into perspective, 90% of the small intestine has less than 10,000 bacteria per ml of fluid; towards the last 10% of the small intestine though, this increases to 10,000,000 bacteria per ml of fluid; compared to the colon which has over 1,000,000,000,000 bacteria per ml of fluid, the small intestine is relatively ‘sterile’.
Studies have found that up to 80% of patients with IBS have SIBO.
Common symptoms and reasons to test for SIBO include: nausea, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, malnutrition due to malabsorption, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and SIBO is associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), acid reflux, Rosacea, restless leg syndrome (RLS), fibromyalgia, Gastro-eseophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Celiac Disease & Diverticular disease.
Why a Breath Test
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.
SIBO Breath Test
Breath testing measures the amount of hydrogen (H) & methane (M) gas produced by bacteria in the small intestine that has diffused into the blood. As the blood passes through the blood vessels in the lungs, these gases are released into the lungs and are expired. The breath test captures the exhaled air [breath] which is then analyzed to assess the amount and ratios of hydrogen and methane.
How does breath testing compare to other tests for SIBO?
|Tests:||Endoscopy||Breath Test||Stool Analysis||Organic Acids|
|Culture||Able to culture only Aerobic bacteria||Unable to culture||Unable to culture||Unable to culture|
|Location of bacteria||Only the proximal part of the small intestine||The whole intestine with the 10 breath sample||The distal part of the colon only||Does not distinguish location of bacterial growth|
How is the test performed?
The test is performed at home using the SIBO breath-testing kit which is mailed to you once it’s purchased from the website. It takes 3 hours in the morning to collect all 10 breath samples after a 12 hour fast the night before and after following a preparatory diet for 2 days prior to the test. Your health practitioner will review the preparatory guidelines with you.
Based on the test results and interpretation, your health practitioner will give you a treatment plan and monitor your progress.
How does the Breath Test Work
- Bacterial overgrowth produces excess quantities of hydrogen and/or methane gas.
- These gases are not produced by humans but rather are produced by intestinal bacteria as they digest carbohydrate
- The breath test measures the amount and ratio of these gases and specifies which gases are present, as well as the location and severity of SIBO.