Urea Breath Test

urea breath test 2

A Urea Breath Test is a reliable and effective test that helps determine whether you currently have a bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori in your stomach. It can be used to not only diagnose ongoing infection, but also see how effective one’s antibiotic treatment was at eradicating the bacteria. The test is simple: you will first exhale into a tube, drink a solution, wait a while, then finally exhale into another tube.

How does it work?

Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) is a bacteria that can infect your stomach and subsequently cause stomach inflammation (gastritis) and peptic ulcers, leading to symptoms such as epigastric pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, or loss of appetite. This bacteria contains an enzyme called urease, which has the ability to metabolize a substance called urea. 

During the Urea Breath Test, you will drink a urea solution that is labeled with an isotope of carbon (we use carbon-13). The urea will then travel down to your stomach, which the H pylori will break down with their urease enzymes, resulting in the release of the carbon isotopes. These carbon isotopes then become detectable in your breath when you exhale. Thus, if the test manages to detect these carbon isotopes in your breath, it is an indication that H pylori is present in your stomach.

Is this test safe?

This test is safe and painless. There is a minimal chance of experiencing temporary side effects from drinking the solution, including mild discomfort and change in taste or smell.

Can it be used for children and pregnant women?

The test we use containing carbon-13 is safe to use in children and pregnant women.

How do I get tested?

Speak to your doctor to see if they think you need to be tested for H pylori. If they do, they can send a referral to our clinic. There are instructions that you may need to begin preparing for one month beforehand, depending on what medications you take. For more details, you can download our Urea Breath Test Instructions.

Please be advised that this service is NOT covered by OHIP.

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