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Reged: 12/09/02
Posts: 7677
Loc: Seattle, WA
Breath Methane Levels Correlate With Constipation in IBS
      04/28/07 10:13 AM

Breath Methane Levels Correlate With Constipation in IBS

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Apr 27 - The degree of breath methane production in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) correlates with the severity of constipation, Los Angeles-based researchers report in the April issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

"About three years ago, we discovered that methane on lactulose breath testing seemed to be highly associated with constipation-predominant IBS. We later found that the gas methane is actually the cause of this slowing of the intestine," senior investigator Dr. Mark Pimentel told Reuters Health.

In the current study, Dr. Pimentel of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and colleagues studied another population of 87 IBS subjects with constipation. Over 7 days these patients kept stool diaries and rated diarrhea and constipation.

The researchers then used lactulose breath testing over 3 hours to establish methane and hydrogen profiles. In all, 20 of the patients (23.8%) produced methane. The researchers suggest that greater methane levels detected on breath tests may represent a more widespread proliferation of methanogenic organisms.

On a 100 mm visual analogue scale, the subjects who produced methane had a mean constipation severity score of 66.1, compared to 36.2 for those who did not produce methane. The converse was true for diarrhea.

In addition, the quantity of methane seen on breath tests was directly proportional to the degree of constipation reported by patients, and greater methane production correlated with a lower stool frequency and Bristol Stool Score.

Dr. Pimentel noted that in another study, he and his colleagues found that neomycin improved constipation in IBS. "This," he said, "occurred predominantly in a manner that was dictated by the elimination of methane production by the antibiotic."

"The association between methane and constipation," Dr. Pimentel concluded, "is really one of the first descriptions of a gas produced by gut bacteria, causing effects on the human they live in."

Am J Gastroenterol 2007;102:837-841.

Heather is the Administrator of the IBS Message Boards. She’s the author of Eating for IBS and The First Year: IBS, and the CEO of Heather's Tummy Care. Join her IBS Newsletter. Meet Heather on Facebook!

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