The H. pylori breath test is a simple and safe test used to detect an active H. pylori infection. Helicobacter pylori (abbreviated as H. pylori) is a bacteria that can infect the stomach or duodenum. If left untreated, H. pylori bacteria can cause gastritis (an inflammation or irritation of the stomach lining) and duodenal (gastric ulcers). In addition, infection with H. pylori increases the risk of other diseases and is also a risk factor for gastric cancer.
Accurate detection of H. pylori is the first step toward curing stomach and intestinal ulcers, and preventing the development of more serious gastrointestinal problems. During the test, the patient will be asked to exhale into a balloon-like bag. The air breathed into this bag is tested to provide a basis for comparison (called a baseline sample). The patient will then be asked to drink a small amount of a solution. Fifteen minutes after drinking the solution, a second breath sample will be taken. The air breathed into this bag is tested for an increase in carbon dioxide. If the test indicates the presence of a H. pylori infection, it can be treated with antibiotics. One month after antibiotic treatment, breath test may be ordered to make sure the infection has been cured.