Rational use of antibiotics in the treatment of functional bowel disorders

Michele di Stefano, Roberta Fasulo, Gino Roberto Corazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Functional gastrointestinal symptoms such us bloating, fullness, flatulence, diarrhea, and constipation due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were recently attributed to small bowel bacterial overgrowth, a condition depending on the presence of an increased number of bacteria in the small bowel. However, the methodology used to describe this association may be harshly criticized, since it has already been shown to be quite inaccurate. As a result an inappropriate use of antibiotics was consequently generated. In fact, antibiotics could be effective in the treatment of functional complaints, but only in a limited subgroup of patients, characterized by an increase of fermentation at colonic level. In this review, we have examined the papers suggesting a pathophysiological link between IBS and small bowel bacterial overgrowth, underlining its inappropriateness, and put forth our personal view on the rationale for antibiotic use in IBS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2380-2386
Number of pages7
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Functional bowel disorders
  • Gas-related symptoms
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Rifaximin
  • Small intestine bacterial overgrowth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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