Hydrogen Breath is Not from Bikini Atoll
- Posted on: Aug 15 2018
In these days with all the stupid talk of nuclear war, when you see the word “hydrogen” you may instantly think of that poor little island in the Pacific, Bikini Atoll, where they tested all of those nuclear bombs, including the hydrogen bomb.
At Ogden Clinic GI at McKay, we run hydrogen breath tests for far less sinister purposes. We use this test to look for intolerance to sugars or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
What is a hydrogen breath test?
The test measures how the amount of hydrogen present in your breath changes after you drink a sugar solution. Normally, your breath should have very little hydrogen in it. If you have a higher level of hydrogen in your breath, it’s a sign of a problem, either from some sort of sugar intolerance or with bacterial growth in your small intestine.
Why does sugar intolerance matter?
One thing’s for sure — Willy Wonka didn’t have a sugar intolerance. But you could have one. Sugar intolerance means you have trouble digesting a specific type of sugar. The one you’ve heard about, lactose intolerance, refers to the sugar found in milk or other dairy products.
In normal digestion, the body breaks down lactose in the small intestine with an enzyme called lactase. If you have lactose intolerance, you don’t make lactase. Because of this deficiency, the lactose moves into the large intestine, where it is broken down by bacteria instead. This process makes hydrogen, which then shows up on our hydrogen breath test.
Other people, although far less, have intolerance to other sugars such as fructose.
What is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth?
If you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), you have an unusual amount of bacteria in your small intestine. This can cause bloating, diarrhea, and malabsorption.
When you drink the sugar solution in our hydrogen breath test, the bacteria in your small intestine will break down the sugar solution, which produces hydrogen.
The amount of hydrogen in your breath is measured in parts per million. In the test, we get an initial baseline when you gently blow into a bag. Then you drink the sugar solution and breathe into the bag every 15-20 minutes. If the amount of hydrogen in your breath increases by more than 20 ppm after drinking the solution, you may have a sugar intolerance or SIBO. We can then help you make changes in your diet to accommodate these issues.
Do you wonder if you’re allergic to lactose or other sugars? Call us at Ogden Clinic GI at McKay, 801.475.3680, and let’s give you a hydrogen breath test.
Posted in: Hydrogen Breath Testing