Helicobacter Pylori also commonly referred as H.pylori. This bacteria lives and thrives in the acidic environment of the gastric mucosa.
1. How do we acquire H.pylori infection ?
Most of the infections are acquired in early age through poor food handling and sanitation. Yes, we can also simply call it a Food-borne infection with fecal-oral route transmission. We all know that kids are eating food all the time without washing hands, and that is how the transmission occurs. Fortunately, the bacterial transmission has tremendously slowed down after refrigeration which kills the bacteria.
2. Can H.pylori infection make me sick ?
I would say 8 out of 10 patients don’t even know that they have bacteria. In some of the people harboring H. pylori It can lead to both gastric and duodenal ulcers, which can cause nausea, burping, bloating, abdominal fullness and pain, and decreased appetite. Very rarely it can lead to gastric cancer. Hence it is highly recommended to treat it.
3. How do we diagnose H.pylori infection
As a GI physician, I diagnose H.pylori infection on gastric biopsies. However, PCP usually are using urea breath test, blood antibodies and stool antigen tests.
4. How do we treat H.pylori infection
Like any bacterial infection, we use antibiotics. However, for H.pylori infection we have to use combination of at least 2-3 antibiotics because of it enzymes to break down the medication and make them ineffective. Currently, my most favored regime is combining Amoxicillin with clarithromycin and Omeprazole (cheap, effective) for 10-14 days. The combination is about 80-90% effective. In some patients clarithromycin can be substituted with metronidazole (flagyl). However, I avoid metronidazole (flagyl) since it is less effective and carries terrible side effects of GI upset. There are pre-packaged packs of antibiotics like Prevpac, Pylera that can be used, but usually this approach is expensive.
5. How do I know H.pylori infection is gone ?
After treatment we order urea breath test to make sure H.pylori infection eradicated. This test is administered at quest or labcorp. In the past we had the machine to administer the test in our office, but it was not cost effective.
If you wish to see me, please schedule a visit at one of the locations : 281-557-2527
- Clear Lake Office (Webster)
1015 Medical Center Blvd
Suite 1300, Webster, TX 77598
Phone: (281) 557-2527
- Satellite Office 2
7111 Medical Center Drive
Texas City, TX 77591
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call my office 281-557-2527, and I would be more than happy to call you back and talk to you for free. I believe this is the least I can do to better the lives of people who are trying to find the right answers.