Helicobactor Breath Test

What is the Helicobactor Breath Test?

It is a simple test to check for the presence of active helicobacter pylori (a bacterium) in the stomach and upper digestive tract.

What are the reasons for the test?

It is possible that your stomach problem/symptom is associated with an infection by the bacterium, helicobacter pylori, so your doctor has requested the test to check:

  • whether you are suffering form this bacterial infection, or;
  • whether treatment for the infection has been successful.

What preparation do you need?

  • ensure you only have the test done 28 days AFTER having taken any Antibiotics.
  • STOP acid lowering drugs 14 days BEFORE the test. Acid lowering drugs include; omeprazole (Losec), lansoprazole (Zoton), pantoprazole (Protium), esomeprazole (Nexium).
  • STOP Stomach medication 2 days BEFORE the test. For example; ranitidine (Zantac), Cimitidine (Tagamet), Gaviscon


You will be asked to fast (not to eat or drink anything) for six hours before the test. This is because the food and drink can make the test less effective.

What does the test involve?

it takes about an hour to complete the test. You will be asked to provide two breath samples by simply breathing through the mouth and down a straw into the base of a small tube. As you breath out, the straw is gradually removed from the tube, which is then quickly sealed. You will be asked to drink a solution of 1g citric acid diluted in 200 ml of water to delay gastric emptying. After drinking the citric acid solution, you will be asked to drink a solution of 13C- Urea. This is dissolved in 30 ml of water and taken immediately. If active helicobacter Pylori are present in your stomach, these bacteria will break down the 13C-Urea, releasing 13Carbon into the carbon dioxide in your breath. 30 minutes after the administration of the test solution, Further samples of your breath will be taken. The test is now complete and your samples will be sent away for analysis. After the test you can eat and drink normally and you can resume your normal activity.

A positive test occurs when the results of the before and after samples are compared and a significant increase in amount of 13Carbon in the second set of samples will suggest that active helicobacter pylori is present.

Is it safe for pregnant women?

It is not expected that the test procedure may be harmful during pregnancy or lactation.

What about the side effects?

13 Carbon and Urea are harmless substances, which occur naturally in the body. Most patients who have the test find that it causes no problem afterwards. However, you may get an upset stomach. If you suffer stomach upset that last for several days after the test or you notice troublesome symptoms, please consult your Doctor.

What happens if I have the infection (helicobacter pylori)?

Your doctor will prescribe a course of treatment of two different antibiotics and an acid lowering medication for 1 week.