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Bacterial Overgrowth Tests in New Jersey

The Digestive Health & Nutrition Center has two convenient locations in Lawrenceville and Princeton, New Jersey where you can receive the exceptional care you deserve. Angela Merlo, MD is an experienced Gastroenterologist with particular expertise in performing and interpreting the results of bacterial overgrowth tests in adults and children.

What is Bacterial Overgrowth?

Bacterial overgrowth is more common than once thought. Bacterial overgrowth is really small intestine bacterial overgrowth. The small intestine is where most digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs.  Very few bacteria usually inhabit the small intestine. The presence of an overload of bacteria in the small intestine can cause malabsorption of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and vitamins A, D and B12.  Common symptoms of bacterial overgrowth are:

Accurate diagnosis is critical as many other conditions produce similar symptoms. A few examples are Celiac disease and infection with Giardia and other pathogens.  Many people previously diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) turn out to have bacterial overgrowth that was not properly diagnosed and treated.

How is Bacterial Overgrowth Diagnosed?

Most patients with bacterial overgrowth have no abnormalities on blood and stool tests. Upper endoscopy cannot confirm the diagnosis of bacterial overgrowth but may be required to exclude the presence of other disorders such as Celiac disease or Giardia infection.  The breath hydrogen test is recommended by Dr. Merlo because it is non-invasive and easy to accomplish in adults and children over 3 years of age. The sensitivity of the test in detecting bacterial overgrowth does depend on gut motility and the presence of other medical conditions.

Breath hydrogen tests for bacterial overgrowth are readily available at the Digestive Health & Nutrition Center. Breath samples are collected at 20-min intervals following the ingestion of lactulose. Dr. Merlo has the instruments to analyze your breath samples during the test. Dr. Merlo will know whether you have bacterial overgrowth by the quantity of certain gases present in your breath samples. Results are available the day of your test. Dr. Merlo will discuss your treatment plan before you leave the office.

If you or your child has symptoms or you suspect bacterial overgrowth, contact the Digestive Health & Nutrition Center in Lawrenceville or Princeton, New Jersey for an appointment. Dr. Merlo will expedite your care.