Having a Hydrogen Breath Test and how to book an... Information for Patients What is a hydrogen breath test?

Having a Hydrogen Breath Test and how to book an appointment
Information for Patients
What is a hydrogen breath test?
This is a special examination of the small intestine, the digestive part of the bowel, to
determine how well it absorbs sugars, or whether there is bacterial overgrowth in this
part of the bowel. These issues can affect the function of the bowel and cause
intestinal symptoms.
What does the procedure involve?
You will be seated comfortably and asked to breathe into a tube before and several
times after drinking a quantity of a special sugar which has been mixed with water.
You should expect to spend about 3 hours in the unit. At the end of the test, you may
eat and drink normally, and drive or work as normal if you wish.
What are the benefits of hydrogen breath tests?
The results of this test will allow your doctor to see if you have a problem in
absorbing sugars, or if you have bacterial overgrowth – this information may help to
treat and improve your symptoms
Are there any risks involved?
There are no risks: this is a safe, non-invasive test.
Is there an alternative?
There is an alternative called the Lactose Tolerance Blood Test which involves
drinking a solution of lactose, taking a sample of blood and testing this to see how
much glucose it contains. This test is outdated and we don’t do not undertake this
test in the unit.
General information
Please complete the enclosed patient questionnaire and bring it with you. If one is
not enclosed, please telephone the number given on the sheet How to Book an
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Your appointment will usually be before 1pm
Do not have anything to eat or drink from midnight of the night before the test since
food or liquids in your stomach will interfere with the results and we would therefore
have to rebook it.
If you are taking any regular medication for diabetes, check with your doctor or the
nursing staff for specific instructions. If you are taking any regular medication for
stomach, bowel, heart, lung, kidney or other medical conditions, please continue
these as normal, you may take your medications with a glass of water on the day of
your examination. If you are asthmatic, please bring your inhalers with you. If you are
being treated with lactulose, please do not take any the previous evening or on the
morning of your investigation.
On arrival at the unit
The receptionist will ask for your questionnaire.
After the examination
You will be free to go home and eat and drink as normal straight after the test.
To book your appointment you can either:
take this form to Reception in the Lady Sobell Gastrointestinal Unit (next to Ward
4), Wexham Park Hospital and arrange the appointment directly
ring on 01753 634157/4704/3061/4262 between 09:00 and 16:00 on weekdays to
book the appointment
Appointment date and time
………… / …………/ 20….…
at ……………………. am
Allowing you to make your own appointment enables you to receive a convenient
date for you.
Please bring this form with you for your appointment, and when you come for your
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If you would like a copy of this leaflet on audiotape, in large print or translated,
please telephone 01753 634398
Title of leaflet: Having a Hydrogen Breath Test and how to book an appointment – Information for Patients
Reference No: H/026/1 Issue Date: September 2013
Review date: September 2015
Compiled by:
Dr Sass Levi, Belinda Johnston - Lady Sobell GI Unit
Legal Notice
Please remember that this leaflet is intended as general information only. We aim to make the information as up
to date and accurate as possible, but please be warned that it is always subject to change. Please therefore
always check specific advice on any concerns you may have with your doctor.
Heatherwood Hospital
Wexham Park Hospital
London Road
Wexham Street
Berkshire SL5 8AA
Berkshire SL2 4HL
Tel 01344 623333
Tel 01753 633000
Web: http://www.heatherwoodandwexham.nhs.uk/information-leaflets
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