Hydrogen and Methane Breath Tests Patient Information

Hydrogen & Methane Breath Tests

A Hydrogen / Methane Breath Test is a painless and non-invasive test which diagnoses these gut disorders known to cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms:

Malabsorption of sugars/FODMAPs

  • Lactose Breath test for lactose malabsorption (lactase deficiency)
  • Fructose* Breath test for fructose malabsorption
  • Sorbitol Breath test for sorbitol malabsorption
  • Mannitol Breath test for mannitol malabsorption
  • Sucrose* Breath test for sucrose malabsorption
    (sucrase-isomaltase deficiency)

Small Bowel/Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SBBO/SIBO)

  • Lactulose and Glucose Breath tests for small bowel/intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SBBO/SIBO)

Lactulose Breath test for Hydrogen production and intestinal transit time
- compulsory control test

All tests are safe in children and pregnancy. If your child is under 35kg in bodyweight, please advise booking staff of approximate bodyweight.
For diabetics (including women with gestational diabetes) please consult your Doctor on how to best manage your diabetes during the test.
* Fructose and Sucrose tests not suitable for patients with diagnosed or suspected Hereditary Fructose Intolerance)

Each test:

  • Starts at 9am and takes up to 3 hours to complete. Late arrivals may be refused testing or may have to reschedule.
  • Needs to be done on a separate day
  • Requires pre-test preparations -
    see "Test Preparation" & "Sample Meal Plan"


  • All tests are payable on the day by EFTPOS or credit card. Cash not accepted.
  • American Express and Diner's Club cards not accepted.
  • There is no Medicare rebate.
  • Each test costs $110.00
  • Cost is non-refundable.
  • CANCELLATION POLICY: Late cancellations (ie. within 24hrs, excluding weekends) may incur a cancellation fee equivalent to the cost of the test.
gastrolab patients

Video Overview

This Video provides a comprehensive overview of how to prepare and what to expect when having a Hydrogen / Methane Breath Test at one of our Gastrolab clinics.

Please Note: Our test preparation has changed slightly since the making of this video. Please ignore the advice to avoid probiotics 4 weeks before the test. You can continue taking probiotics leading up to our test/s.

What happens during the test?

The hydrogen and methane breath test is simple, painless and non-invasive.

Please arrive for your appointment on time (preferably 10-15 minutes early) as late arrivals may be refused testing.

On the day of the breath test the technician will first check that you have observed the patient preparations, such as proper fasting and avoiding certain medications and medical procedures prior to the test. This is to ensure accurate and reliable results.

A baseline reading will be taken using a highly sensitive, hand-held breathalyzer (for breath hydrogen), or using specialized breath collection bags (for breath methane). Following the baseline reading you will be given a liquid sugar drink, such as lactulose, fructose, lactose or glucose. Breath samples will then be collected regularly for a period of up to 3 hours, and the levels recorded by the laboratory technician on your result sheet.

The test is performed in a group setting and you may wish to bring reading material, laptop, iPad etc. to occupy your time. You may resume your normal diet immediately after your test. You may experience certain gastrointestinal symptoms as a result of your test, such as bloating, flatulence, or in less common cases, bowel motions. Side effects are not expected.

Breath Test Preparation

You must follow these instructions before each test to ensure accurate and reliable results. This will be verified on the day in order for your test to proceed. Patients who do not follow these instructions may be refused testing or may have to reschedule.

2 WEEKS before your test:

  • NO Oral and IV Antibiotics. Skin creams, eye and ear drops are OK.
  • NO Colonoscopy or Barium Meal Enema procedures.

1 FULL DAY before your test:

  • RESTRICT Milk and Dairy Products. Lactose-free milk, soy/rice/almond/coconut milk are OK.
  • RESTRICT Canned & Dried Fruit, Fruit Juices, Soft Drinks and Honey.
  • RESTRICT High Fibre Foods (beans, oats, corn).
  • NO Fibre Supplements (eg. Metamucil).
  • NO Laxatives.

Download Sample Meal Plan for Hydrogen / Methane Breath Tests.

We recommend a meal containing rice and meat the evening before your test (or rice and vegetables for vegetarians).
Alcohol: Limit to maximum one standard drink on the day prior to testing.
All other foods and medications can be eaten as normal - admin staff will refer you back to this patient information if you call.

FAST from 9pm the night before test:

You may continue to drink plain water leading up to the test.

On the morning of your test:

  • NO Smoking and Continue to Fast.
  • Continue to take your normal medication with plain water.
  • Refrain from physical exercise for 1 hour before your test.
  • You may wish to bring reading material, laptop, iPad, etc. to occupy your time.

PLEASE NOTE: We use a shared waiting room. Seating is limited to patients only with the exception of parents and carers. Please refrain from bringing visitors.

Breath Test Results

Your test results will be interpreted by one of our pathologists.
After your last test a summary of your results will be sent to your referrer within 4 business days.
Patients referred by a medical doctor:
- for patient confidentiality purposes our policy is that the patient must see the referrer for results.
Self-referred patients will have their results sent to them.

For dietary advice following a result suggesting malabsorption, Gastrolab can recommend an Accredited Practicing Dietitian in your area who specializes in gastrointestinal disorders and malabsorption.

For more information about Hydrogen/Methane Breath Testing read the articles:


{Last updated April 2018}

Contact Us

Phone: 1300 624 771
Fax: (03) 9331 4198
Email: enquiries@gastrolab.com.au

Head Office: Level 1 456 Lower Heidelberg Road Heidelberg VIC 3084

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