Hydrogen breath tests are very helpful in the diagnosis of common gastrointestinal disorders. We use them to determine if patients are having trouble digesting substances like lactose and fructose (certain common sugars). These disorders often cause gas, bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Disorders of digestion of these entities can often mimic other disease, and are actually quite common.
These tests are simple to do. The patient fasts after midnight the night before and then drinks either milk (for the lactose test) or soda (for the fructose test) a few hours before they come to the office. Once at our office, a breath sample is easily collected and analyzed. Results are available immediately and recommendations can be given promptly.
A baseline test can also be performed, to screen for general malabsorptive conditions or bacterial overgrowth. No special preparation, fasting, or ingestion of a drink as described above is needed for the baseline screening test.