H Pylori Breath Testing
H. pylori Breath Testing
The H. pylori breath is a simple and non-invasive safe test used to diagnose the presence of a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), infection in the stomach. The test can also be used to see if H. pylori has been eradicated after treatment with antibiotics.
Why Perform H. pylori Breath Testing?
The presence of H pylori can increase the risk of developing gastritis or inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, peptic ulcer disease, or stomach (gastric) cancer. Breath testing helps determine if you have an active presence of H. pylori, which can then be treated with antibiotics.
Preparing for H pylori Breath Testing
- You need to avoid antibiotics or Pepto-Bismol four weeks before the test.
- You will need to avoid over-the-counter or prescription proton pump inhibitors two weeks before your procedure. These include Prilosec®, Prevacid®, Protonix®, Nexium®, AcipHex® and Dexilant®. As these medications may potentially cause false results.
- Don’t stop taking any other medicine without first talking with your doctor.
- You will need to not eat or drink one hour before the test.
What to Expect
What to Expect During H. pylori Breath Testing
During the H. pylori Breath Testing
- You’ll be asked to exhale into a balloon-like bag. This measures the amount of carbon dioxide to provide a baseline comparison.
- Next you’ll drink a solution that contains a substance called urea.
- 15 minutes after drinking the solution, you’ll exhale into a second bag and the amount of carbon dioxide you exhale is then measured. If an H. pylori bacterium is present, it will break down the urea in the solution you drank, releasing the carbon dioxide in the second bag.
- If the amount of carbon dioxide in your second sample is higher than the amount in your first sample, you have a positive test for H. pylori.
- The procedure lasts about 20 to 30 minutes.
After the H. pylori Breath Testing
After the procedure you may resume your normal activities with no restrictions
H. pylori Breath Testing Follow-Up
- If the test results indicate the presence of H. pylori, antibiotics are typically recommended.
- The test is often repeated 6 to 8 weeks after the completion of therapy to ensure eradication of H pylori.
- If you have a negative test and continue to have symptoms, other tests may be needed to determine the cause.