Symptom provocation in irritable bowel syndrome effects of differing doses of fructose-sorbitol

P. Symons*, M. P. Jones, J. E. Kellow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


The role of fructose and sorbitol, when ingested together, in the aetiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is controversial. The aims of this study in IBS patients, therefore, were to compare differences in symptom provocation with various doses of fructose-sorbitol and to relate differences in the extent of colonic hydrogen production after each dose to such symptom provocation. Two different mixtures of fructose and sorbitol-20 g fructose plus 3.5 g sorbitol ('lower' dose) and 25 g fructose plus 5 g sorbitol ('higher' dose)-were administered to 15 patients with IBS and to 24 healthy controls. Breath hydrogen concentrations were determined at 10-min intervals for 3 h after ingestion of each mixture, and the presence and severity of a range of gastrointestinal symptoms were recorded on a standard form before, during, and after the study. Total symptom score in IBS patients, but not controls, was greater (p > 0.05) after the higher than after the lower dose of fructose-sorbitol mixture, and, for the higher dose, symptoms were significantly greater in IBS patients than in controls (p > 0.05). Moreover, the increase in total symptom score between the higher and lower dose mixtures was of a greater magnitude (p = 0.01) in IBS patients than in controls. No significant correlation was observed between the increase in symptom score and the increase in peak hydrogen concentration or the increase in integrated hydrogen response between lower and higher dose mixtures, although these latter increases were at times substantial. We conclude that in patients with IBS who ingest fructose and sorbitol simultaneously, the degree of symptom provocation is related to the amounts present in such a mixture but is not related directly to the extent of colonic hydrogen production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-944
Number of pages5
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Fructose malabsorption
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sorbitol malabsorption
  • Symptom provocation

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