Diagnosing H Pylori

Helicobacter Pylori Infection (H Pylori) is the most prevalent chronic bacterial infection. This infection is associated with chronic stomach inflammation, stomach and duodenal ulceration, and stomach atrophy. Having this infection increases your risk of developing gastric cancer and gastric lymphoma (M A L T).

H pylori is often diagnosed by upper endoscopy by a GI specialist for evaluation of upper abdominal pain. H pylori can cause gastric and duodenal ulcers. The eradication of the infection will decrease the possibility of recurrent ulcers. In patients taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, H pylori’s presence increases the chance of ulceration and intestinal bleeding. 

H pylori can also cause chronic gastritis, which is a surface inflammation of the stomach. Chronic gastritis can result in atrophic gastritis, which can lead to iron malabsorption and anemia. Atrophic gastritis can lead to the development of gastric cancer. If a patient has a family history of gastric cancer, screening for H Pylori infection is recommended. A low grade gastric mucosal lymphoma ( M A L T) can result from such an infection. Often the only treatment needed is the eradication of the infection. Limited evidence suggests that eradication of H pylori improves platelet count in some patients with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (IT). 

If you are experiencing upper abdominal pain, see a GI MD. Depending on the circumstance, an H pylori breath test can be ordered. Treatment will be administered if the test result is positive. If the pain is accompanied by GI bleeding, anemia, or weight loss, an upper endoscopy (EGD) by a GI specialist will be necessary. It may also be needed if you have a family history of stomach cancer.

Antibiotics with a proton pump inhibitor are used to treat H pylori. Since the bacteria are now resistant to multiple antibiotics, this can be exceedingly difficult and require multiple regimens prescribed by a gastroenterologist. A new drug regimen, Talicia, which I helped research, is 90% effective in eradication. 

Confirmation of cure is essential. The conventional treatment is only 60%-70% effective. This testing is usually done by H pylori breath test at least two months after completing treatment. Once the cure is confirmed, H pylori can not reoccur. If treatment is not successful, then a continued infection can lead to an increased risk of gastric cancer. A GI specialist can monitor this process.

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