A woman holding a glass of milk Breath testing
Food Intolerance Testing
Why is breath testing performed?

Your doctor may recommend you have breath testing for food intolerances if you have any of the following problems:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Increased flatulence (wind)
Food intolerances are a common cause of gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, wind and pain. When certain sugars (FODMAPS) are absorbed poorly in the small bowel, these sugars react with bacteria and produce a gas (either hydrogen or methane) which is then absorbed and breathed out from the lungs, which can be detected during breath testing. The low FODMAP diet has been scientifically and clinically shown to reduce functional abdominal symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease (not responding to a gluten free diet) and inflammatory bowel disease with limited inflammation. Read More
What is the preparation for breath testing?

Before each test you must eat a low fermentable diet for 24 hours and have nothing to eat from midnight before the test. You will receive specific written information from the Cambridge Specialist Centre prior to testing.

What happens on the day of your breath testing?

After arrival at the Cambridge Specialist Centre you will meet our testing staff who will explain the test in more detail and answer any questions that you may have.

Breath hydrogen (or methane) will be measured on a small device. You will then drink a small drink of lactulose, fructose or lactose. Breath testing is repeated every 15 minutes until a test is clearly positive or for a maximum of 3 hours. Any symptoms you experience during that time will also be recorded by the testing staff.

What happens after breath testing has completed?

You will be able to return to your normal activities and diet after the testing has finished. The information gathered will be interpreted by Dr Melissa Haines, who are gastroenterologists with specific training in the interpretation of diagnostic breath test results. Your doctor will inform you of the test results and refer you to a dietician to give you individualized dietary advice.

Please note that there may be a delay of up to a week to obtain results from methane gas testing as the sealed bags of gas are sent to Auckland for analysis.

Safety and Risks

Breath testing is a very safe and non-invasive test. The lactose and fructose that you are given are naturally occurring carbohydrates which are given in very small concentrations. Some people do experience mild symptoms of loose stools, bloating, wind and abdominal discomfort when there is malabsorption of the ingested carbohydrate.

Contact Us

Booking a consultation

Get in touch today with one of our team and we’ll arrange a time that suits you to see one of our specialists.