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Breath Tests in New Jersey

The Digestive Health & Nutrition Center has two convenient locations in Lawrenceville and Princeton, New Jersey where you can receive the exceptional care you deserve. Angela Merlo, MD is an experienced Gastroenterologist renowned for her expertise in performing and interpreting the results of breath tests in adults as well as children.

What are Breath Tests?

Breath tests are noninvasive techniques that use breath samples to diagnose the presence of disease. Two types of breath tests are available at The Digestive Health & Nutrition Center:

  • Helicobacter pylori breath test diagnoses H.pylori infection by detecting a gas produced after drinking a chemical solution
  • Breath hydrogen tests diagnose food intolerances and bacterial overgrowth

What is a Breath Hydrogen Test?

Breath hydrogen testing is based on the principle that bacteria release gases during metabolism of carbohydrates (sugars) and that these gases can be detected in the breath. The predominant gases are hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide. Bacteria are normally found in the colon. Any carbohydrates not digested and absorbed after a meal will pass into the colon and be metabolized by bacteria. Breath tests are used to diagnose specific food intolerances by detecting the quantities of hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide present in the breath following ingestion of specific carbohydrates. A sensitive instrument is required for the analysis of breath samples.  Some instruments analyze only hydrogen in breath samples. Hence the name “breath hydrogen test”.  But, falsely negative results can occur without complete breath analysis. The Digestive Health & Nutrition Center has the most advanced technology available that can detect methane and carbon dioxide as well as hydrogen.

How is a Breath Test Performed?

Dr. Merlo has all the equipment to perform your breath test at the Digestive Health & Nutrition Center. Patients must fast with no food and only water for 12-hours before the test. Most medications can be continued without interruption but Dr. Merlo will provide detailed instructions for your particular situation. Breath samples are collected using a sterile sampler at 30 to 60-minute intervals following the ingestion of a specific carbohydrate that Dr. Merlo wants to test. The test will determine your ability to digest and absorb what you ingest. Breath tests usually last about two hours to allow time for what you ingest to reach the colon.

Breath tests are non-invasive and are suitable for adults and children over 3-years of age. Providing a breath sample is as easy as blowing into a bag.

What can Breath Hydrogen Tests Diagnose?

Breath tests are used to diagnose specific food intolerances that are suspected to be the cause of a multitude of common digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating and abdominal pain. Food intolerance is the inability to digest and absorb a specific dietary component. Lactose intolerance is one example. Dr. Merlo has diagnosed specific food intolerances in many patients previously diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). These patients have experienced reduction and even elimination of symptoms following Dr. Merlo’s specific dietary recommendations formulated from the results of breath tests.

If you or your children are experiencing symptoms or you suspect food intolerances contact the Digestive Health & Nutrition Center in Lawrenceville or Princeton, New Jersey for an appointment. Dr. Merlo will expedite your care.