Hydrogen Breath Testing

Hydrogen Breath Test (HBT)

Our breath test measures both hydrogen and methane production as the digestive process proceeds. Accurate analysis of these gases can be used to assist in the diagnosis of several conditions that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, such as:

Why Use a Hydrogen Breath Test

Commonwealth Laboratories, Inc. uses hydrogen breath testing in the diagnosis of two conditions

  • The first is a condition in which dietary sugars are not digested normally. The most common sugar that is poorly digested is lactose, the sugar in milk. Individuals who are unable to properly digest lactose are referred to as lactose intolerant. Testing also may be used to diagnose problems with the digestion of other sugars such as sucrose and fructose.
  • The second condition for which breath testing is used is for diagnosing bacterial overgrowth of the small bowel, a condition in which larger-than-normal numbers of colonic bacteria are present in the small intestine.

Either of these conditions may cause abdominal pain, abdominal bloating and distention, flatulence (passing gas in large amounts), and diarrhea.

A test frequently ordered by physicians is the hydrogen breath test for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO.) Researchers studying digestive disorders have determined that a large number of patients suffering from abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, etc., were found to have this disorder. Bacteria that are normally found in the large intestine had migrated into the small intestine. There appears to be a strong correlation between SIBO and IBS. Once diagnosed, and treated with an appropriate protocol of antibiotics, these patients have experienced welcome relief from their symptoms. Similarly, accurate diagnosis of one or more of the sugar intolerances by using one of our breath test kits, can lead to development of a treatment plan that can greatly diminish painful digestive reactions to lactose, fructose, or sucrose.

The test is simple, non-invasive, patient-friendly and is performed after a short period of fasting (typically 8-12 hours).

Hydrogen breath test procedure

For the hydrogen breath test, individuals fast for at least 12 hours. At the start of the test, the individual fills an evacuated glass tube with a breath sample. Then, after ingesting a small amount of the test sugar, the patient will continue to provide breath samples for up to three hours.

Important links