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Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth Study

Your doctor has determined that you should undergo a breath test to determine if you have small bowel bacterial overgrowth (SBBO).

Research has shown that SBBO is often a cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and its symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, bloating, distention, flatulence and abdominal cramps.

Nonabsorbable antibiotics with minimal side effects, such as Xifaxan, have been shown to be very effective in treating the symptoms of IBS when SBBO is present.

Breath tests have been used as a diagnostic tool for decades, particularly in diagnosing lactose (milk) intolerance. Breath testing is simple, cost effective, reliable, noninvasive and well-tolerated.

In order to diagnose SBBO, you will be asked to provide an initial breath sample. You will then drink a small amount of lactulose, a synthetic, nonabsorbable sugar. Samples of your breath will be collected every 20 minutes over a three-hour period. If there is bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine, the lactulose will be digested, producing gases such as hydrogen and methane that can be measured in your breath samples.

Your doctor will then review the results of your test and determine an appropriate treatment plan for you.

Bacterial overgrowth test preparation instructions

  • Do not eat or drink anything for at least eight hours before beginning the test. The day before the test, avoid foods that digest slowly, such as beans and vegetables.
  • Do not sleep, smoke or vigorously exercise for at least one hour before the test or at any time during the test.
  • Notify your doctor or nurse if you have recently taken antibiotics.

If you must take medication the morning of your test, do so with only a sip of water.

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