What is a Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) breath test?
An H. Pylori breath test is used to detect the presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the stomach or small intestine. H. pylori bacteria produces an enzyme called urease, which breaks down urea and produces carbon dioxide as it does so. This carbon dioxide can be measured.
You will be asked to breathe into a breath collection bag. Then you will be given a solution or tablet containing urea. After a short time, you will be asked to breathe into a second breath collection bag so that the carbon dioxide levels in your breath can be measured and compared to your earlier sample.
You will be asked not to eat, drink or smoke for a few hours before your procedure. Your physician may also advise you to avoid or stop taking certain medications for some time beforehand, including antibiotics.
Who needs a Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) breath test?
A Helicobacter pylori breath test may be recommended for you if you suffer, or are suspected to suffer, from gastritis or ulcers in the stomach or small intestine. H. pylori bacteria can be the root cause of these conditions.
The test is also sometimes used to confirm that a course of antibiotics has successfully eradicated H. pylori.