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News

Breath methane in IBS correlates with constipation severity

The degree of breath methane production in IBS correlates with the severity of constipation, finds the latest issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

News image

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Recent work has demonstrated that among irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) subjects, methane on lactulose breath test is universally associated with constipation.

This work has been based on subjective constipation outcomes.

Dr Soumya Chatterjee and colleagues from California compared methane to constipation in 87 IBS subjects with constipation, using both subjective and objective measures.

24% of subjects produced methane
The American Journal of Gastroenterology

The research team conducted a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study.

After consent, subjects were asked to complete a stool diary for 7 days.

This included logging all bowel movements for that week.

In addition, the subjects were asked to ask to document the stool consistency during the same period using the Bristol Stool Score.

After 7 days, subjects were asked to rate their symptoms on a visual analogue scale score for diarrhea and constipation.

The researchers then conducted a lactulose breath test to evaluate both methane and hydrogen profiles over 180 minutes.

The team compared the Bristol Stool Score, stool frequency, as well as visual analogue scale scores for diarrhea and constipation between the subjects.

The degree of constipation was then compared to the quantity of methane production on lactulose breath test, based on area under the curve.

The researchers found that 24% of subjects produced methane.

Irritable bowel syndrome subjects with methane had a mean constipation severity of 66 compared to 36 for nonmethane producers.

The team observed the opposite trend for diarrhea.

On lactulose breath test, the quantity of methane seen on breath test was directly proportional to the degree of constipation reported.

In addition, the team noted that greater methane production correlated with a lower stool frequency and Bristol Stool Score.

Dr Chatterjee's team concluded, “Methane on lactulose breath test is associated with constipation both subjectively and objectively.”

“The degree of methane production on breath test appears related to the degree of constipation.”

Am J Gastroenterol 2007: 102(4): 837-41
05 April 2007

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