What is a Hydrogen Breath Test?

Hydrogen Breath Test is a non-invasive, sensitive and specific means of dignosing small bowel sugar malabsorption. The test is commonly used in neonate, paediatric and adult patients to diagnose malabsorption of the charbohydrates such lactose, fructose, sucrose, sorbitol and xilytol. It is also used to investigate small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), that occurs when the bacteria from the colon go back in the small intestine causing abdominal bloating and diarrhea.

What is the Principle of Hydrogen Breath Test?

The test makes use of gut bacteria’s ability to digest unabsorbed sugars and convert these to hydrogen, which is then absorbed into the blood and can be measured in exhaled breath. Usually very low quantity of hydrogen is produced by anaerobic bacteria that ferment unabsorbed food normally reaching the colon. However, when the small intestine is not able to absorb properly the food, a big amount of undigested food arrive then in the colon and high quantity of hydrogen is produced. Large amount of hydrogen can be produced also when SIBO occurs.

An illustration of Hydrogen Breath Test

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