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Lactose Breath Hydrogen Test

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What is a lactose breath hydrogen test?

Lactose breath hydrogen test is a test that finds out how well your child can digest lactose (milk sugar).

What should we do before for the test?

Your child should not take antibiotics for the 14 days before the test date.

Your child should not have had a colonoscopy, barium study, enema, or had a diarrheal illness within 14 days of this test.

  • Before your child starts the breath test, a 24 hour preparation is required, which includes a 12 hour restricted diet followed by a 12 hour fast.
  • If you are not sure if a food item may affect the test, contact the physician or DO NOT give this item to your child.

The first 12 hours is the restricted diet. Limit intake to the foods below:

  • Baked or broiled chicken or turkey (may season with salt and pepper only)
  • Baked or broiled fish (may season with salt and pepper only)
  • Plain steamed white rice
  • Eggs
  • Clear chicken or beef broth
  • White bread only

For the second 12 hours, do NOT eat or drink ANYTHING except water.

On the morning of the test, your child should rinse their mouth very well after brushing their teeth so that there is no toothpaste in their mouth.

Your child should not smoke or be exposed to cigarette smoke for an hour before the test and during the test.

Your child should not sleep an hour before the test or during the test.

Your child should not perform vigorous exercise for an hour before or during the test.

Please report to the Gastroenterology offices on the 4th floor of the main hospital in Norfolk 15 minutes before your child’s scheduled appointment time to register.

How the test is done:

This test will take about 3 hours to complete. Your child will be asked to blow air into a special balloon before the test is started. Your child will then drink a lactose drink which tastes like sweetened water. After your child finishes the lactose drink, they will blow air into a special balloon every 30 minutes for the next 3 hours. Your child will not be allowed to eat or smoke until the test is finished. Your child will be allowed to drink only water for the 3 hours during the test.

After the test:

The air samples will be sent to an outside laboratory for analysis and the results will be given to your child’s doctor. Please talk with your child’s doctor about any questions you may have about the test or the results.

We look forward to seeing you on _______________________ at ____________________________ a.m. If you have questions about these guidelines, you may contact the GI Office at(757) 668-7240 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 07/2018

(757) 668-7000