The HBT Sleuth hydrogen breath test is also used to give patients a bacterial overgrowth breath test. Normally, the human small intestine contains only small amounts of bacteria. Two major factors control the numbers and kinds of bacteria found within the small intestine gastric acid secretion and intestinal motility. Alterations in gastric acid secretion and intestinal motility provide the setting for development of bacterial overgrowth. The consequences of bacterial overgrowth within the small intestine can be serious malabsorption that results in clinically important deficiencies of several nutrients.
The elderly in particular appear to be at high risk for bacterial overgrowth because of decreased acid production and the development of small intestinal hernias with age and should receive a bacterial overgrowth breath test. It has been suggested that bacterial overgrowth is the most common cause of clinically significant malabsorption in the elderly. These studies suggest that over one-third of the elderly have predisposing conditions for bacterial overgrowth and should have a bacterial overgrowth breath test with a hydrogen monitor. The bacterial overgrowth breath test takes several hours to complete with the HBT Sleuth hydrogen monitor. The physician evaluates five readings of the bacterial overgrowth breath test over a period of two hours to measure small-intestinal transit time.