Urea breath test (helicobacter pylori)

This leaflet has been written by staff working in the Endoscopy Unit at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

We hope you find it useful. If, after you have read it, you have any questions or concerns, please ring us on our direct line 020 3315 3056/5223.

When you come into the Unit (2nd Floor, Lift Bank B), please talk to us about any worries and ask any questions you have.

If you would like to change your appointment time or date, please contact the Endoscopy Unit booking team on 0203 315 4141/5984 or email us Chelwest.cwdiagnosticcentre.admin@nhs.net.

Your appointment time in Endoscopy is approximate as some procedures may take longer than expected and emergency procedures need to take priority. Please expect to be in the department for several hours having pre-procedure checks, the procedure and for recovery after the procedure.

What is a urea breath test ? (helicobacter pylori)

This is a simple breath test that can be used to determine whether or not you have an infection in your stomach caused by the bacteria helicobacter pylori.

The test involves blowing into 2 glass tubes using a plastic straw. After a first sample has been taken, you will be asked to drink 200mls of orange juice and the recommended urea powder solution.

Further breath samples will then be collected in the same way as the first. The test lasts approximately 40 minutes.

This test is completely safe and painless.

Why do I need to have a urea breath test?

Possible reasons why you have been asked to take this test include:

Your doctor would like to confirm whether you are suffering from a helicobacter pylori infection to help diagnose your condition.

You may already have been diagnosed as being infected with helicobacter pylori and have been taking medication to clear up the infection. Your doctor may now wish to find out if the treatment has been successful.

Do not eat or drink anything (including water) for 6 hours before the procedure.

Do not take any antibiotics for 4 weeks before the test. Take only the medication approved by your doctor before the procedure.


If you are taking any of the following medications, please stop taking them for 2 weeks prior to your appointment:

  • Losec (Omeprazole)
  • Zoton (Iansoprazole)
  • Zantac (Ranitidine)
  • Tagamet (Cimetidine)

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Performing the breath test during pregnancy and breastfeeding has no damaging effects.

However, if you are a patient taking a drug for helicobacter pylori eradication therapy, it is recommended that you check the patient information leaflet that accompanies the drug for information on pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Driving and using machinery

The test has no influence on your ability to drive or to use machinery.

If you are diabetic

As you have diabetes, you are at an increased risk of developing a low level of blood sugar when you do not eat for a prolonged period, called a ‘hypo’, which may produce sweating, shaking, and blurred vision.

To avoid this occurring while you are preparing for your test, please inform a member of staff if you are diabetic.

After the test

You may resume your normal activities. You can restart your normal diet unless you have other tests that require dietary restrictions.

The result of the test will be forwarded to your GP. Your GP or referring clinician will contact you if you require any helicobacter pylori eradication therapy.


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