Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test

Patient Leaflets Team

  • Reference Number: HEY-030/2019
  • Departments: GI Physiology
  • Last Updated: 18 October 2019


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information. Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion. If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

What is a Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test?

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium which can live in the stomach. A Helicobacter pylori breath test is a simple breath test to determine whether or not you have an infection in your stomach caused by the bacterium Helicobacter Pylori.

Why do I need a Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test?

In order to try to explain your symptoms, your healthcare professional has decided that you may have a stomach infection caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. As such, your healthcare professional has asked the department to perform a Helicobacter pylori breath test for one of two reasons:

  • To confirm whether you are suffering from Helicobacter Pylori to help diagnose your condition.
  • You have already been diagnosed as being infected with Helicobacter Pylori and have taken the medication aimed at clearing up the infection. Your healthcare professional now wishes to find out if the treatment has been successful.

Can the test have any complications or risks?

There are no complications, risks or side effects documented from people having a Helicobacter Pylori breath test performed. It is not expected that performing the Helicobacter Pylori breath test during pregnancy and lactation has any damaging effect. The Helicobacter Pylori breath test has no influence on your ability to drive or to use machinery.

How do I prepare for the Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test?

Please read this information leaflet. Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support.

Please have nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to the test.

If you are on any medication for your heart, breathing problems or hormone replacement therapy, please continue to take them as usual. However, it is important that you stop taking any of the following:

28 days before your appointment:

Any antibiotics.

14 days before your appointment:

PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitor) such as: omeprazole (Losec), lansoprazole (Zoton), rabeprazole (Pariet), esomeprazole (Nexium) or pantoprazole (Protium).

3 days before your appointment:

Ranitidine (Zantac), cimetidine (Tagamet), nizatidine (Axid), famotidine (Pepcid), domperidone (Motilium) or metoclopramide (Maxolon).

24 hours before your appointment:

Any antacid such as: Gaviscon, Gaviscon Advance, Rennies, Maolox, Algicon, Gastrocote, Magnesium Trisilicate or Settlers.

On the day of your test:

No smoking.

What will happen?

You should go to the Department of GI Physiology, which is situated next to Ward 14 (1st floor) at Castle Hill Hospital.

A member of staff from the Department of GI Physiology will explain the breath test to you. This is to ensure that you understand the test and all its implications. You will be asked to sign a consent form if you agree to have the test carried out. A member of staff from the Department of GI Physiology will then start the breath test.

The test is very easily performed. It requires you to breathe down a straw into two tubes, and then you will drink 200ml of water containing a sachet with a mixture of citric, tartaric and malic acid. You will then drink 50ml of water containing Urea (this is a tasteless test solution, which will help to establish if Helicobacter Pylori is present). You will then have a 30 minute wait, after which you will breathe down a straw into two more tubes. The test is then complete, the procedure will last approximately 40 minutes and you may then go back to work or home.

What happens afterwards?

The results of the breath test will be sent to a laboratory to be analysed and the results should be available in the department within a week. The consultant in charge of your care or your doctor will be informed of the result and they will decide what if there is a need for any action.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Department of GI Physiology on telephone: (01482) 624036

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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