Hydrogen Breath Testing
Hydrogen breath tests are used to diagnose small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and/or dietary carbohydrate intolerance such as lactose, fructose or sucrose intolerance., Lactose intolerance is an inability to properly digest the sugar in dairy products. Prior to undergoing a hydrogen breath test, patients must refrain from eating or drinking anything for at least 8 hours.
At the start of the procedure, the patient will drink a beverage containing a sugar such as lactulose, lactulose, fructose or sucrose. Shortly after consumption of the beverage, the patient is instructed to blow into balloon-like bags every 15-20 minutes for about 2-3 hours. The air within these bags is then tested to measure hydrogen levels. Although hydrogen is normally present in exhaled breath, greater amounts are often produced when the sugar is not properly digested or bacterial overgrowth exists.