Helicobacter Pylori Urea Breath
Does this test have other names?
Urea breath test, UBT
What is this test?
This is a breath test that checks for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a common infection.
H. pylori bacteria are spread through contact with feces from an infected person.
Many people get this infection during childhood. The bacteria often live in the stomach
lining without causing any symptoms or problems. But for some people, these bacteria
cause ulcers and other stomach irritations.
While they live in your stomach lining, H. pylori make urea, a natural compound in
the body. As the bacteria make urea, they create ammonia and bicarbonate. Traces of
these can be found in your breath. This is proof that H. pylori live in your body.
Why do I need this test?
This test may be done if you have been treated for H. pylori and your healthcare provider
wants to know if the treatment worked. This test is the easiest way to find out if
H. pylori are living in your stomach.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider might also order these tests:
What do my test results mean?
A result for a lab test may be affected by many things, including the method the laboratory
uses to do the test. If your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
The urea breath test is accurate more than 95% of the time. If the test is positive,
H. pylori is present. If it's negative, you likely do not have H. pylori in your stomach.
How is this test done?
This test is usually done first thing in the morning. You may be asked to fast or
may be given a special meal to eat. You will also be given a drink or capsule that
contains urea. This urea helps the lab figure out if you have H. pylori. Over the
next hour, you will breathe into a special bag at certain times—for example, every
10 to 20 minutes. The air you breathe will be collected and analyzed for signs of
Does this test pose any risks?
This test poses no risks.
What might affect my test results?
If this test is done too soon after treatment, you could get a false-positive result.
This means that the test could show that H. pylori are still present even though they
are not. To get the best results, you should be retested at least 4 weeks after treatment
for H. pylori.
Other factors that may affect results include:
The test is a good choice for children, but is less accurate in children younger than
How do I get ready for this test?
You must fast before this test. Ask your healthcare provider how long you should not
eat or drink before the test You will need to eat a meal that contains urea. This
helps the lab find byproducts of urea after you digest it.
Be sure your provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements
you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit
drugs you may use. You may be asked to stop taking certain medicines before the test.