Intestinal Breath TestAt LA Integrative Gastroenterology & Nutrition we use a variety of cutting-edge tests and techniques to diagnose our patients’ digestive issues. Chief among these is the intestinal breath test. An intestinal breath test is a non-invasive procedure that can be done in the office or at home to measure the gases produced by intestinal bacteria. The purpose of measuring these gases is to gauge whether or not certain bacteria are present in the small intestine. The identification of these bacteria may point to a variety of digestive disorders.

Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth, or SIBO, is among the most common uses for an intestinal breath test. SIBO refers to a condition in which an excessive amount of bacteria exist in the small intestine. These bacteria also resemble those typically found in the colon rather than the normal bacteria of the small intestine. Other symptoms of SIBO include excess gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and abdominal bloating.

What Happens During an Intestinal Breath Test?

The day prior to taking the test, patients should be on a limited diet, refraining from slowly digesting, high fiber foods. Next, the patient is to refrain from eating for at least 12 hours before the test. The test will generally consist of taking seven samples of the patient’s breath, every 20 minutes, by exhaling into a small bag and inserting a glass tube that captures the breath. After the first sample (the baseline sample), the patient will drink a small amount of “sugar”, diluted with water. This non-absorbable “sugar” moves through the small intestine and into the colon, where it produces gas. Then, the remaining six samples will be taken and the patient’s breath will be analyzed for hydrogen, methane, and CO2.

Why Use an Intestinal Breath Test?

Intestinal breath tests are used to assess certain gastrointestinal disorders, including one or more of the following:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the side effects of intestinal breath testing?

A: Side effects are extremely rare, yet may include bloating, distention, pain, and diarrhea. These are the same symptoms as those experienced by a patient with a poor ability to digest and absorb sugars and carbohydrates.

Q: How should I prepare for my intestinal breath test?

A: Your doctor will give you specific instructions in the days leading up to your test, but in general patients are asked to do a variety of things to prepare. These include avoiding certain foods the day before the test such as beans and bran, fasting for a certain amount of time, and not smoking, sleeping, or exercising vigorously for an hour before the test. You are allowed to drink water and you may take your medication, as long as it isn’t an antibiotic.

Q: What happens after my intestinal breath test?

A: After the test, you can very quickly go back to your normal life, which includes resuming your usual diet. A representative of LA Integrative Gastroenterology & Nutrition will contact you with the results as soon as they are available.

Q: Why does LA Integrative Gastroenterology & Nutrition test for both hydrogen and methane?

A: Like many experts, we believe that the measurement of hydrogen alone is insufficient for proper diagnosis of SIBO. Because of this, we routinely test for hydrogen and methane, while also checking for carbon dioxide to rule out the possibility of contaminated air.

Contact a Los Angeles Intestinal Breath Test Expert

Are you tired of living with stomach pain, diarrhea, or other digestive disorder symptoms? Have you struggled to receive an accurate and effective diagnosis of your condition? If so, contact LA Integrative Gastroenterology & Nutrition to schedule an appointment at (310) 289-8000 or email us.

Next, read about Heidelberg Gastric pH Testing.