Breath Test (Helicobacter Pylori)

Your Health

What is a Helicobacter Pylori (HP)?

Helicobacter Pylori is a bacteria that is found in the stomach. It is so called because of its Helical shape and the site that it is found in the stomach, called the pylorus. If the bacteria is present it is probably the result of an infection which caused a bout of sickness, possibly in childhood. The bacteria can cause inflammation of the stomach lining (Gastritis) and can also lead to ulcers - gastric ulcers when in the stomach and duodental ulcers when in the first part of the small bowel.

HP is a common infection and most subject with HP have no symptoms.

What is a Breath Test and how is it done?

The test involves providing a breath sample; firstly by blowing into 2 tubes. You will then be asked to drink 200ml of pure orange juice followed by swallowing a harmless substance with water that will be broken down in the stomach. You will then need to wait in surgery for a full 30mins. After this time you will be asked to provide a further 2 breath samples. If HP bacteria is present, the breakdown products will be deteced in the breath which is collected in small test tubes.

The test is a very accurate way of assessing whether HP is present in the stomach. It is also useful after eradication treatment to check that the stomach is clear of infection.

I've been asked to have a Urea breath test, what should I do?

If you have been requested by the Doctor or Nurse to have a Urea Breath Test, you will need to be referred to the hospital for this test, the Doctor will refer you. When you make the appointment please follow the guidelines below.

  • STOP taking any antibiotics for 4 weeks before your appointment
  • Stop taking ulcer tablets for 2 weeks before your appointment, these include:
    • Zantac (Ranitidine)
    • Tagamet (Cimetidine)
    • Losec (Omeprazole)
    • Zoton (Lansoprazole)
    • Axid
    • Pepcid
    • Pantoprazole
    • Rabeprazole

If you continue to take any of the above medication until your test, it can affect the result by giving a false negative outcome.

  • DO NOT EAT or DRINK anything from 12 midnight prior to your appointment.
  • If you are a smoker, REFRAIN FROM SMOKING from 12 midnight until after the test is complete.
  • Bring 200ml* of PURE ORANGE JUICE (NOT FLAVOURED ORANGE DRINK) with you to your appointment.

*the nurse can mesure 200ml at your appointment if bringing a large juice carton.

How do I find out my results?

You can obtain your test results by speaking to reception, or making a follow-up telephone appointment with the requesting doctor within 3-4 weeks of your test being taken.