SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) Breath Test

Summer is the time for travel, gardening, enjoying nature, family gatherings, barbecue parties and many other fun filled activities. It is not uncommon that it is during this time of the year we see more cases of flaring up of gastro-intestinal concerns. The delicate balance between the good and bad gut bacteria maintain our internal microbiome. However, when this balance is altered, the bad bugs take over and cause what is called - Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

SIBO is becoming an increasingly common concern among those suffering from persistent gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating, diarrhea or constipation, flatulence, overall weakness.

The two most common causes associated with developing SIBO are decrease in gastric acid secretion and motility problems (slow emptying or gastroparesis). Previous H. Pylori infection could be a risk factor and could potentially predispose to developing SIBO. Other risk factors include but not limited to: structural abnormalities (small intestine diverticula), IBS, metabolic disorders (diabetes), organ dysfunction (renal / hepatic problems, pancreatitis) and some autoimmune reactions (including food sensitivities) as well.

SIBO can lead to fat malabsorption, and deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), carbohydrate and protein malabsorption leading to mucosal damage. A common complication of bacterial overgrowth is cobalamin (vitamin B12) deficiency.

Breath test is now a standard method to evaluate patients for potential overgrowth because of its simplicity, safety, and lack of invasiveness. It is a fairly new test which quickly became routine in our laboratory assessment tools.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the treatment options are usually antimicrobial therapy (antibiotic drugs or herbals), elimination diet (breaking the diet into "elements" for easy and fast absorption, thus 'starving' the bacteria), healing the tissues and addressing the factors that predisposed to SIBO in the first place.

In our practice, it usually requires a few treatment rounds to treat SIBO and even then it might have a high return rate. Therefore, focusing on the predisposing factors and improving the 'terrain" of the gastrointestinal tract remains the main goal to ensure that treatment results stay.

If you would like to learn more on this topic, please check the website:

for more information and talk to your naturopathic doctor if you have any questions. Breath tests are routinely performed at RHNC if clinically indicated.

Enjoy this beautiful hot summer and stay healthy!

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