|Stained Helicobacter pylori on Stomach Lining|
( Epidemiology and Diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori Infection )
But I didn’t have any of those symptoms. So why did my doctor decide to test me for H. pylori? Did she think that because I had lived in Mexico for over three years and traveled there extensively for more than twenty-five years that I was a high-risk candidate for an H. pylori infection? My blood test results came back positive. I did have H. pylori bacteria living in my stomach. How long had I had that?
It turns out, my risk of having H. pylori in my stomach is fairly high based on statistics. Over 50% of the world’s population has this gram-negative bacillus growing on the mucous lining of the stomach. In fact, according to the , two-thirds of the world's population is infected with H. pylori, so the odds that I am one of those who has acquired it isn’t all that strange.
|We Dine at Reputable Restaurants in Mexico & Drink Purified Water|
H. pylori infection is more prevalent in developing countries such as México and those in Central and South America, as well as Asian countries including China. Since I have been traveling to and living in México, as well as Costa Rica and Ecuador, for over 30 years, the odds are that I picked it up somewhere along the way. Of course, H. pylori can be contracted in the U.S., Canada, or any country, so who knows where I picked it up, but living in Mexico is not necessarily to blame, though it could have been the source. Add to that, my 20-year history of GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease), sometimes severe enough to cause prolonged vomiting, and it must have occurred to my physician that I was a good candidate for the H. pylori blood test.
Why was it important for me to be treated for H. pylori? Many people carry these bacteria in the stomach their entire lives and never undergo treatment. Most infected people (more than 70%) are asymptomatic, without symptoms. But there are risks of leaving it untreated, especially once symptoms begin.
When signs or symptoms do occur with H. pylori infection, they may include:
· An ache or burning pain in your abdomen
· Abdominal pain that's worse when your stomach is empty
· Loss of appetite
· Frequent burping
· Unintentional weight loss
Since its discovery in 1982, H. pylori has been known to be a principal cause of peptic ulcer disease and as the main risk factor for the development of gastric cancer. About 15% of infected individuals will develop peptic ulcer (duodenal or gastric) or gastric cancer as a long-term consequence of infection. I already have a genetic risk for gastrointestinal cancer, so, yes, I’m going through with the whole, nasty treatment process.
What’s so nasty about the treatment? Well, have you ever heard of an infection that requires treatment with three antibiotics at a high dose plus a proton pump inhibitor, all administered simultaneously for two weeks? That’s what it takes to eradicate the resistant H. pylori bacteria and allow the stomach ulcer to heal. There are various FDA-approved treatment regimens. My doctor prescribed amoxicillin 500mg, two capsules twice daily, plus clarithromycin 500mg, two tablets twice daily, plus metronidazole 500mg, one tablet twice daily, plus omeprazole 20mg, one capsule twice daily, all taken for two weeks. I was not looking forward to this course of therapy!
The side effects of the medications were worse than the symptoms I had been experiencing! The stomach upset, even when taking all pills after meals, and the diarrhea this therapy caused were enough to make me seriously consider stopping the medications after the first week! The horrible metallic taste in my mouth from the metronidazole was one of the worst side effects. At least it didn’t alter the flavor of food. I powered on, determined to complete the treatment and eliminate this nasty bacterial infection.
|No Alcohol During Treatment for H. pylori Infection!|
|Sources of Lactobacillus for a Healthy Stomach & Intestine|
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Terry L Turrell