Taking a Deep Breath to Diagnose What’s Wrong in Your GI Tract


BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Sixty to 70 million Americans suffer from gastrointestinal disorders, and undergo endoscopies and colonoscopies, which show structural problems in the digestive tract. But taking it a step beyond, a new breath and motility center can diagnose an assortment of GI problems, based on motility, or how food is actually moving through your system.

Forty percent of all Americans suffer from gastrointestinal diseases, such as nausea, fecal incontinence and IBS. Lateara White knows the feeling — she spent a whole year throwing up every single night.

Lateara recalls, “I would vomit at least five times out the week, at night. I would always get it at night.”

That’s when she turned to a new breath and motility center at Mercy Medical Center. In this digestive clinic, patients breathe into a bag and those breath gasses are then tested for food intolerance and malabsorption, which means it analyzes how food is moving through the digestive system.

“People with motility problems, like gastroparesis, where the stomach is not, you know, doing that process efficiently, the food will actually sit in the stomach for hours or even days at a time,” explains Bryan Curtin, MD at Mercy Medical Center.

But Lateara was diagnosed with gastroparesis, leaving her feeling like she’d just eaten when she hadn’t.

“Even though I’m hungry, I still felt full. I couldn’t eat a whole meal,” she says.

Finally, the breath’s concentration of hydrogen and methane gas provide insight into any common sugar intolerance.

Dr. Curtain adds, “Then I have a dietician that works directly with me, and a lot of times, the first step is to, kind of, have somebody, you know, objectively look at your diet and, sort of, identify potential trouble spots.”

Lateara did that, and finally found the relief she’d been looking for, for more than a year. If you have unexplained chronic GI symptoms, such as constipation, nausea, diarrhea and heartburn, it may be time to consider a motility disorder.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Matt Goldschmidt, Editor.

To receive a free weekly e-mail on medical breakthroughs from Ivanhoe, sign up at: http://www.ivanhoe.com/ftk






REPORT:        MB #5367

BACKGROUND: Gastrointestinal diseases are conditions that affect your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. There are two types of these diseases: functional and structural. Some examples of gastrointestinal diseases include colitis, food poisoning, lactose intolerance, and diarrhea. Functional diseases are those in which the GI tract looks normal when examined but doesn’t move properly. These are the most common problems affecting the GI tract. Constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, gas, bloating, and diarrhea are common examples.

Most gastrointestinal diseases can be prevented and/or treated.

(Source: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/7040-gastrointestinal-diseases )

DIAGNOSING: Gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn, indigestion, bloating and constipation are common in the issue and in the United States, it’s estimated that 10 to 15 percent of the adult’s population suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and only 5 to 7 percent adults have been diagnosed with the disease. It’s the most common disease diagnosed by gastroenterologists and also one of the most common disorders seen by primary care physicians.

(Source: https://gi.org/topics/common-gi-symptoms/#:~:text=In%20the%20United%20States%2C%20it,seen%20by%20primary%20care%20physicians. )

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Mercy Medical Center has a new Motility and Breath Testing Suite on the second floor of Mercy’s Mary Catherine Bunting Center. The new suite includes 10 GI preparation and recovery rooms eight breathing testing chairs. Common problems studied include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic bloating and gas, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea and fecal incontinence. Motility testing is performed to see if a patient’s gastrointestinal tract is contracting and relaxing properly, and breath testing is done to see if there is a large amount of bacteria in the small bowel and to diagnose lactose and fructose intolerance. The center also performs GI and liver procedures.

(Source: https://mdmercy.com/about-mercy/news-and-media/news/2023/march/mercy-opens-new-motility-and-breath-testing-suite )


Dan Collins


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Bryan Curtin, MD, MHSc, Director of Neurogastroenterology and Motility

Read the entire Q&A