Hydrogen Breath Testing is often over-looked as an investigation method for symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, excessive gas, abdominal discomfort etc. It is a non-invasive technique and can provide a direct indication of malabsorption or bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine.
If you have bacterial overgrowth of your small intestine, the bacteria essentially ‘eat’ foods (specifically carbohydrates) when they enter the intestine from your stomach. This bacterial breakdown occurs before these nutrients have the chance to be absorbed across the wall of your small intestine. As a result of this bacterial breakdown, gases such as methane, hydrogen and carbon dioxide as well as short-chain fatty acids are produced. These by-products result in the symptoms listed above and can have a huge impact on quality of life. Treatment is with an antibiotic that specifically targets the bacterial overgrowth within the small part of the intestine.
Similarly, if you suffer from lactose malabsorption, it means you are not able to effectively digest the milk sugar ‘lactose’. One reason may be due to the reduction in the enzyme ‘lactase’ which is required for lactose metabolism. One cause of diminished lactase levels is coeliac disease. With coeliac disease, damage to the border of the small intestine can affect the amount of lactase entering the lumen. As a result the lactose travels to the colon (large intestine) where it is broken down by bacteria. This leads to the production of by-products listed above, resulting in gastrointestinal symptoms and discomfort such as diarrhoea, excessive gas and bloating.
The Helicobacter Pylori infection is very common and is present in up to 50% of the population. This bacteria is thought to cause stomach and duodenal ulcers as well as chronic gastritis. Ulcers are thought to occur because the bacteria reduce the resistance of the gastric wall making it more susceptible to damage from gastric acid in the stomach. Testing can be performed with a Urea Breath Test. It is non-invasive and simply involves blowing into a special bag at specified intervals following the consumption of a 13C urea tablet.
GastroLife is a clinic that specialises in performing these tests. We have over 7 years experience in GI motility testing. All tests will be carried out by a GI Physiologist. For more information or to book an appointment please visit www.gastrolife.ie, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 085 1675165. Our clinic is based in Naas, Co. Kildare
Melissa obtained an honours degree in 2008 in Clinical Science. She specialised in cardiology, vascular and neurophysiology measurements and achieved the award for highest academic results.
In 2008 she began working in St. James’s Hospital performing gastrointestinal motility studies. While working here she went on to specialise in GI Physiology by undertaking a two year course in gastrointestinal measurements. Following this she obtained full accreditation as an independent practitioner from the British Society of Gastroenterology.
She is now in the process of completing a Masters of Philosophy (MPhil), researching Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth post upper GI Surgery.