“Breath testing” refers to a variety of procedures that measure the gases produced by intestinal bacteria to diagnose the causes of symptoms including gas, bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Breath tests are simple, non-invasive ways to identify the causes of gastrointestinal problems, and determine the best course of action for treatment. Most breath tests take less than 15 minutes, and immediately return results.
Helicobacter Pylori – more commonly known as H. Pylori – is an intestinal bacteria known to cause several gastrointestinal problems. H. pylori has been shown to cause 80% of all ulcers – and is also connected to a higher risk of gastric cancer. An estimated 50% of people have H. Pylori inside of them – although most don’t know it.
The most common symptoms of H. pylori are those associated with gastritis or peptic ulcer disease, including a burning or gnawing feeling in the abdominal region. The symptoms are often most severe on an empty stomach. Many people infected with H. pylori, however, never show symptoms at all. People with a family history of H. pylori are at a higher risk for the bacteria, and should consider taking a breath test to determine if the bacteria is present. Dr. Nowain uses the BreathID Hp breath tester to test for H. Pylori. The simple procedure that takes less than 15 minutes to complete and return results, all in the comfort of the Center for GI Health offices. If you test positive for H. pylori, treatment is generally a course of antibiotics followed by a second breath test to ensure the bacteria has been eradicated.
A hydrogen breath test is a simple, in-office procedure to diagnose patients with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and certain food intolerances. There are three different uses for the hydrogen breath test – lactose testing, fructose testing and lactulose testing.
This five minute test determines whether the patient can digest lactose – the ingredient in dairy products that causes bloating, gas and diarrhea in those who are lactose-intolerant. If you think you may be dairy intolerant getting tested is advised. Cutting dairy unnecessarily from your diet can lead to a higher risk for nutritional deficiencies – particularly calcium and vitamin D – so it’s best to know for sure before you eliminate dairy.
Similar to the lactose breath test, the purpose of the fructose breath test is to determine whether a patient can digest fructose – a sugar found in fruit, honey, high fructose corn syrup and various root vegetables. The most common symptoms of fructose malabsorption are gas, bloating, cramping and diarrhea.
This procedure takes about three hours to complete. The lactulose breath test is performed to detect small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – a condition in which an excessive number of bacteria populate the small intestine. SIBO causes bloating, diarrhea, gas, vomiting, malabsorption and other gastrointestinal symptoms.