How Does the Breath Test Work?
The breath test measures gases (hydrogen and methane), which are produced by bacteria in the intestine.
These gases are produced by fermentation of the test substrate.
How much, and at what time after drinking the test solution the gases change enables us to predict where the sugar substance is being fermented.
What is SIBO?
Definitely a common FAQ! Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth, or SIBO, occurs when there are too many bacteria in the small intestine.
This can cause various symptoms, including bloating, nausea, altered bowel habits, excessive burping, and poor appetite.
Does the breath test also measure hydrogen sulphide?
Measuring hydrogen sulphide on breath is relatively new. So far, it is not able to be measured in New Zealand.
We are waiting for new equipment so we can include this gas in our testing.
Why do I have to follow a special diet before the breath test?
The test measures gases produced by bacteria, so it is important to restrict the food your gut bacteria get before starting the test.
This helps ensure the starting gases are low, making interpretation of the changes more reliable. Breath
Why do I have to stop my laxatives?
If your usual laxative is on the “stop one week before” list, it is because it either alters bowel motility (which can hasten the movement of the test substrate through the small intestine), or it contains fermentable substances.
Both can alter the reliabilty of your results.
If you need to stop your laxative, please contact us for a recommended alternative to use leading up to the test.
A glycerine suppository (from your pharmacy) is OK to use if you become constipated.
Why is fasting required for this test?
Fasting is important to ensure that the small intestine is clear of any food.
We cannot guarantee accurate results when diet and fasting instructions are not followed.
Where can I do the breath test?
You can do the test at home or on-site in our Auckland clinic.
The at-home test includes all the instructions and equipment needed to do the test.
Is it better to do the test in the clinic or at home?
It is slightly cheaper to complete the test in our Auckland clinic.
- If you are overly anxious or find it hard to follow instructions, you are best to complete the test on-site.
- Please contact us to make a booking.
- We will email you an appointment and preparation instructions.
Is lactulose the same as lactose?
No. Lactose is the sugar from milk, while lactulose is a man-made sugar. However, if you are allergic to lactose, please contact us before ordering a lactulose breath test.
Can lactulose cause diarrhoea?
Lactulose is used as a laxative, typically given at higher doses than is used in this test.
Most people do not experience any increase in bowel motions from the amount of lactulose used in the breath test.
What else can the breath test be used for?
Using different substances gives different information.
SIBO can be assessed with Glucose, Lactulose and Fructose. Each test gives your practitioner different information that is used to help understand your digestive system.
- Fructose is also used to determine fructose intolerance
- Lactose is used to test for lactose malabsorption
- Sucrose is used to test for sugar intolerance
- Mannitol and/or Sorbitol are used to test for polyol (FODMAP) intolerance.
My practitioner wants me to do several breath tests. Does it matter what order I do them? How soon can I do the next one?
Yes, the order matters.
- Always start with Glucose, then Fructose, and lastly Lactulose.
- If you are doing the test at home, we advise leaving at least 2 days between tests (i.e., one non-test day).
- For example, after doing the glucose test, you can follow the preparation instructions and do the fructose test 2 day later.
- Remember that you need to send the kits back to us quickly, so that we receive them within 7 days of collection.
How reliable is the equipment used to analyse the samples?
The equipment used at the Auckland Gut Clinic is a QuinTron Breathtracker.
This machine is considered to be the gold standard in hydrogen-methane breath testing equipment.
Do I need a referral for this test?
A referral is not necessary. We do need the details of your health practitioner to send your results to.
Is the test covered by my health insurance?
If your doctor or specialist has written a referral for the breath test, you may be able to claim it on your insurance.
Check with your insurance provider.
When will my kit be sent?
Once confirmation of your order and payment is received, we will send your kit within 1 business day.
What do I do if something is missing from the kit?
Call us immediately on 09 846 5566
What do I do if I make a mistake during preparation or testing?
If you make a mistake, e.g., forget to stop the restricted medications, or if you eat/drink something before starting the test, you will need to delay doing your test.
If you make a mistake during testing, you are best to call us. Our office is open at 09:00am on business days.
If it is a weekend, please continue with sample collection and make a note of the error and the time.
How quickly will my results be ready?
Once we receive the kit in our lab, your samples are processed within a few days.
We aim to complete processing and writing of reports within 7 days.
What can I do if my results are positive?
If your test shows an abnormal result, you will need to work with a health practitioner who understands breath testing.
You can book with one of our gut-savvy practitioners working from the Auckland Gut Clinic, or we can make a recommendation for a practitioner near you.