Diagnostic Breath Testing and Dietitian Consultation for Abdominal Symptoms

Food intolerances are amongst the most common cause of gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, wind and pain. All of us know that we may devevlop abdominal symptoms with different foods. With so many diets advertised, how do you know where to start to manage your abdominal symptoms effectively?

Who may benefit from Diagnostic Breath Testing and Dietary Consultation?

The low FODMAP diet has been scientifically and clinically shown to reduce functional abdominal symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), coeliac disease (not responding to a standard gluten-free diet) and inflammatory bowel disease (with limited inflammation).

Choose the low FODMAP treatment that suits you.


 Diagnostic Breath Testing and Dietitian Consultation

Why see us for Diagnostic Breath Testing?

We are the first group in New Zealand and the only group in Christchurch to offer a comprehensive service of hydrogen and methane testing to diagnose dietary causes for abdominal symptoms. Our experienced and friendly staff perform diagnostic breath testing three days per week and can answer any questions that you might have. Our Gastroenterologists have many years experience of interpreting and reporting diagnostic breath tests and work closely with the Dietitians at Dietary Specialists. Our equipment is carefully looked after by our Scientific Officer Dr Brace Dobbs.

What is Diagnostic Breath Testing?

This non-invasive test is the most effective way of determining whether someone absorbs carbohydrates (sugars) that can be triggers for IBS symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, wind and abdominal pain. Diagnostic breath testing can guide an appropriately trained dietitian to advise you about a low FODMAP diet.

What does testing involve?

Testing occurs over three days (these can all be in the same week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) or can be split over several weeks. Before each test you must eat a low fermentable diet (download below) for 24 hours and have nothing to eat from midnight before the day of the test. On arrival you will meet our testing staff and often one of our Gastroenterologists who will explain the test in more detail and answer any questions that you may have.

Breath hydrogen is measured on arrival using a small handheld device. Next a small drink of lactulose, fructose or lactose is consumed and then the breath test is repeated every fifteen minutes for up to three hours. Measuring breath hydrogen is as easy as holding your breath for 15 seconds and then gently exhaling into the small breath testing machine. In 15% of patients, hydrogen is not produced and methane needs to be measured. In theses cases we will ask you to blow into a self-sealing bag. We are the only clinical diagnostic centre able to measure methane on site in New Zealand.

Is breath testing safe?

Diagnostic Breath Testing is a very safe test that is non-invasive and simply requires you to blow into a machine for 2-3 hours on three separate days. The carbohydrates that are given are naturally occurring and are given in concentrations less than the recommended daily intake. For people who malabsorb the carbohydrates, symptoms such as bloating, wind, abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea may occur but these are generally mild.

What happens after Diagnostic Breath Testing?

The information gathered from breath testing is only useful when it is interpreted by an experienced gastroenterologist and then acted on by a FODMAP diet-trained specialist Dietitian. Professor Richard Gearry and Dr Bruce Chapman are Gastroenterologists with specific training in the interpretation of Diagnostic Breath Test results and work closely with the specialist Dietitians at Dietary Specialists to ensure the best results for patients.

Julie Leeper, Leigh O’Brien and Clarice Hebblethwaite (Dietary Specialists) are Gastrointestinal Specialist dietitians. They specialise in the assessment and dietary management of gastrointestinal disorders including irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) gastro-oesophageal disease and food intolerances. In addition to their extensive experience, Julie, Leigh, Fiona, Sarah and Clarice have been specifically trained in the delivery of the low FODMAP diet which has revolutionised the treatment of people with irritable bowel syndrome and functional diarrhoea.

Diagnostic Breath Testing and dietary consultation at Digestive Health Services is the perfect combination to assess and manage your gastrointestinal symptoms, combining state of the art testing with professional highly trained and friendly Dietitians. This synergy works so well that we have combined three breath tests and two Dietitian consultations into a package. We are New Zealand's original low FODMAP centre. Contact us to find out more. 

 Dietitian Consultation Only

Our experienced and friendly team of specialist gastrointestinal Dietitians will work with you to identify triggers for your abdominal symptoms. They will explain the way that these foods lead to symptoms and provide you with realistic alternatives to maintain a healthy diet while minimising abdominal symptoms. For people opting for a Dietitian consultation, the dietary advice given is not individualised based on the results of breath testing. However, our Dietitians will provide examples of how simple changes to your diet could lead to dramatic improvements in your abdominal symptoms.

Our Dietitians provide practical advice including information on what you can eat, menu ideas, eating away from home, shopping information and a diet plan tailored to your lifestyle.



Diet and IBS Brochure