What a Bacteria Overgrowth Test Could Tell You

An overgrowth of bacteria in your intestines can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including abdominal bacterial overgrowthcramps, bloating, gas and diarrhea. Luckily, a simple breath test can determine if you suffer from bacterial overgrowth, Dr. Vikram Jayanty, a Houston, TX doctor, specializes in gastroenterology and provides some helpful information about the test.

The problem

It used to be difficult to determine if high levels of bacteria in your small intestine were responsible for gastrointestinal problems. Although endoscopies and colonscopies provide valuable information about the state of your intestines, neither of these tests can reach the middle section of your small intestine where bacteria can flourish.

The solution

Researchers discovered that bacterial overgrowth could be detected by measuring how much hydrogen is present in your breath. When the bacteria in your small intestine is exposed to glucose (sugar) in absorbed foods, they produce these gases. The gases eventually enter your bloodstream and travel to your lungs. When you breathe out, some of the gases are expelled. If you have a bacterial overgrowth, you'll exhale a higher-than-normal amount of hydrogen.

In addition to diagnosing bacterial overgrowth, the test is also used to detect lactose intolerance or determine if food passes through the small intestine too quickly. You may be more likely to develop bacterial overgrowth if you have diabetes, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, AIDs, scleroderma, Parkinson's disease, diverticulitis or cirrhosis of the liver.

How is the test performed?

You'll prepare for the test by fasting for 12 hours. Before the test begins, you'll blow into a balloon to establish a baseline hydrogen level. After you drink a sugary solution, your breath will be measured again. Breath samples will be collected every 15 minutes for up to five hours.

How is bacterial overgrowth treated in Houston?

If your problem is caused by an underlying illness or condition, treating the issue can help relieve your symptoms. Antibiotics and a low-carbohydrate diet can also be helpful in reducing bacteria levels.

Are you tired of living with bloating, cramps and other gastrointestinal symptoms? A hydrogen breath test can be helpful in identifying the cause of your problems. Call Dr. Jayanty, your Houston, TX doctor, at (713) 932-9200 to schedule a gastroenterology appointment.

Our Location