Heliobacter Pylori Infection – The Cause and the Cure
Have you been experiencing upper stomach pain, bloating, and/or frequent heartburn? If so, you may be suffering from an H. Pylori infection.
What is H. Pylori?
H. Pylori is normally contracted during childhood, and infects approximately one-half of the world’s population. While as many as 90% of those infected with the bacteria will never develop symptoms, it can remain in remission for many years, and those who do will often experience frequent burping, burning or aching abdominal pains, in addition to nausea, vomiting, or unexplained weight loss. These symptoms are often the result of ulcers and inflammation of the stomach lining, and can even lead to more severe illnesses such as stomach cancer. In fact, in 80% of stomach ulcer cases, H. Pylori is the culprit.
What Can I Do If I’m Experiencing These Symptoms?
The first thing you should do is contact Advanced Family Medicine and schedule an appointment. During your appointment, we’ll utilize one or more of the following methods to determine if your stomach is infected with H. Pylori:
- Blood Work – During this test, we’ll draw blood and check it for the H. Pylori antibody. However, if it is found, we won’t have the ability to determine if it is a current or past infection.
- Breathing Test – Here, you’ll need to drink a special solution that contains a material that is broken down by the H. Pylori bacteria. Then, you’ll breathe into a specialized tube that will detect this “breakdown” product. In order to have this test administered, you’ll need to abstain from food and water for at least one hour prior, avoid PPI medications (such as Omeprazole, Prolisec, Protonix, and Nexium), and abstain from soda beverages for at least 2 weeks prior to the test.
- Stool Test – We’ll take a stool sample from you, and then perform a specialized test to identify if the H. Pylori bacteria are present.
What Happens if I Test Positive for the H. Pylori Bacteria?
After one or more of the above tests are complete, and if you test positive for the H. Pylori bacteria, your treatment will include a 10-14 day course of a combination of drugs, which are typically ABX and proton pump inhibitors such as Omeprazole. In addition, you’ll also require other treatments to avoid future complications, and to heal any existing ulcers.
Once your treatment is complete, you’ll need to undergo a follow-up breath or stool test in order to ensure the H. Pylori bacteria has been completely eradicated. This is primarily because some patients may fail the first course of treatment, at which point they’ll need to undergo a second round.
How Can I Prevent Spreading the H. Pylori Bacteria?
H. Pylori is most often spread by consuming food and water that is contaminated with the bacteria, usually through fecal matter, but can also be transmitted via fecal/oral or oral/oral contact. Also, while humans are the primary source of H. Pylori infection, it has also been found in primates and even domestic cats.
Those with the highest risk of contracting the bacteria swim in rivers and pools, drink from stream water, and eat uncooked vegetables and high-salt foo