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What is Breath testing?

Breath testing assesses the function of your small and large intestines.  After a breath test, Melbourne patients will gain insight into their internal system. Breath testing can be used to detect the presence of:


*   Food intolerances

*   Malabsorption of food sugars

*   Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth



Breath testing can be used to diagnose the following Gastrointestinal disorders:


*   Fructose Breath test - fructose malabsorption


*   Glucose Breath test - small intestinal bacterial overgrowth


*   Lactose Breath test - lactose intolerance (lactase deficiency)


*   Lactulose Breath test - Hydrogen production and intestinal transit time


*   Sorbitol Breath test - sorbitol malabsorption


*   Sucrose Breath test - sucrose malabsorption (sucrase-isomaltase deficiency)



How does breath testing work?

When we eat, the nutrients contained in the food we consume are absorbed into the bloodstream through the lining of the small intestine.  Sugars such as lactose, fructose, sorbitol and glucose are usually absorbed in the small intestine. 


However, if an undigested sugar passes through the small intestine with minimal or no absorption it will then pass through to the large bowel.  Here the bacteria in the large bowel will begin feeding on the sugar, converting part of it into hydrogen or methane gases.  These gases are absorbed into the bloodstream from the large bowel and travel to the lungs where they are breathed out.


These gases can be read via your exhaled breath.   An increase in these gases in your exhaled breath will indicate if you have a problem absorbing the test sugar substance.  Fermentation of these sugars in the large bowel can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, excessive wind, diarrhoea and/or constipation. 


In the case of suspected small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, there is an oversupply of gas producing bacteria in the small intestine.  Sugars are fermented by bacteria in the small intestine before they can be absorbed, leading to an increase in hydrogen or methane gases. 



Who has breath testing?

Breath testing plays an important role in diagnosing carbohydrate malabsorption in susceptible individuals.  If you suffer from the following chronic gastrointestinal symptoms it may be beneficial to screen for sugar malabsorption. 


*   Abdominal pain

*   Altered bowel habits

*   Bloating

*   Constipation

*   Diarrhoea

*   Flatulence

*   Urgency with bowel movements


Other less common symptoms:


*   Fatigue

*   Nausea

*   Heartburn


Dietary restrictions based on your results will see an improvement in your symptoms and quality of life. 


How can breath testing help me?


The results of breath testing allow for the correct diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms.  Once a correct diagnosis is made the appropriate changes can be made to your diet and lifestyle.  You will then see an improvement in your symptoms and quality of life. 


Diet is vital in the treatment of carbohydrate malabsorption and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.  The results allow for the correct dietary and supplemental interventions to be utilised. 


If you are ready to gain a better insight into your health through a breath test, Melbourne residents should book an appointment now. 






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