What’s the test for?
Hydrogen and methane breath testing is a widely accepted means of identifying changes to the gut microbiome and is used to detect abnormal growth of bacteria in the small intestine, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
You may be referred for this test if you are experiencing symptoms including diarrhoea, nausea, bloating, gas and abdominal cramps.
About the procedure
A SIBO breath test is simple and non-invasive. You will provide an initial breath sample by blowing into a test tube through a straw, or into a foil bag, which will give us your baseline reading.
Then, you will drink water containing either glucose or lactulose which needs to be consumed over a minute or two.
Breath samples will then be taken every 15 minutes for just over two hours in order to measure hydrogen and methane, post-ingestion.
During the test, you should take note of any symptoms you experience and complete the symptom form, which will then be interpreted alongside the data collected by a clinician.
If you are paying for this test yourself and not through private medical insurance, the cost will be £450 (or £250 as a postal test).
How to prepare
There is some preparation required before your arrival at the clinic. This preparation involves stopping certain medication and fasting. Please see our patient information leaflet for full details.
What can be learned
Bacteria normally found in the large intestine produce hydrogen and methane through fermentation of carbohydrates/sugars. In SIBO, these bacteria move into the small intestine, meaning they break down the sugars before the body has had a chance to digest them.
This causes an over-production of gases such as hydrogen and methane. These gases are absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to the lungs where they are exhaled and can be collected in SIBO breath test samples for analysis.
Following your hydrogen and methane breath test, your data will be analysed and results written up into a report. The report will be sent to both you and your referring consultant/doctor, who will explain the results to you in a follow-up consultation.