Urea Breath Test (H. pylori Testing) Instructions
Please read this handout. If you have any
questions, ask your nurse or doctor before
coming to the lab. It is very important to
follow these instructions to obtain the best
Why am I having this test?
The Urea Breath Test will help your doctor
decide if you have gastritis (irritation in the
lining of the stomach) or an ulcer (sore)
caused by bacteria called Helicobacter
pylori. The test may also be used to follow
up on your response to treatment.
How do I get ready for this test?
Do not eat for one hour before your
Stop smoking at least one hour
before and during your test.
Certain drugs and over-the-counter
preparations interfere with this test.
You must be off these medicines for
two weeks before this test can be
done. Contact your doctor for
instructions if you have taken any of
the drugs listed below during the two
weeks before your test.
□ Antibiotics given by oral,
intravenous (IV), or
intramuscular (IM) means.
□ Bismuth preparations such as
Pepto-Bismol®, Kaopectate®, or
Testing can be performed while on
proton pump inhibitors such as
Prilosec®, Prevacid®, Nexium®,
Protonix®, Aciphex®, Zegerid®. If
you are taking proton pump
inhibitors a positive test is
considered positive; however a
negative test may be false. Your
doctor may ask you to come back for
a repeat test after discontinuing
proton pump inhibitors for two
H2 Blockers (most commonly used;
list is not all inclusive) such as
Zantac ®, Ranitidine®, Pepcid®,
Tagamet®, Axid® may reduce test
reliability and may be discontinued
for 24-48 hours before testing.
If you have phenylketonuria (PKU)
please contact your doctor. This test
cannot be done on persons with
To find out if the treatment has
worked, you must wait at least 4
weeks after the end of treatment to
avoid false negative results.
Are there drugs I am allowed to use
before H. pylori testing?
ξ Topical antibiotics
ξ Antacids (most commonly used; list
is not all inclusive) such as
Gaviscon®, Maalox®, Mylanta®,
Rolaids®, Tums®, Milk of
Magnesia®, Gelusil®, Alka Seltzer®,
Alka-2®, Titralac®, Amphojel®,
How does the test work?
1. You will be asked to blow into a
small collection bag. This is your
baseline breath sample.
2. A substance called urea will be
dissolved in water. You will drink
3. Fifteen minutes later you will be
asked to blow into a second
4. The breath samples obtained are
tested in the lab.
5. The lab test will find out if H. pylori
The staff from the Phlebotomy Lab will give
you the drink. They will help you collect
the breath samples. If you have questions
about this test, feel free to contact
Phlebotomy at (608) 263-6033 between the
hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, Monday –
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©10/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6901.