What is Helicobacter Pylori?
Helicobacter Pylori is a stomach bacteria. It is also known as “H. Pylori.” This particular bacterial infection may cause excess acid which irritates the stomach lining. Many patients complain of abdominal pain and/or acid reflux. In the most extreme cases, damage to the stomach increases the risk of stomach cancer.
Quickcare or ER?
Key Red Flags that will send you to the ER:
- Severe pain
- vomiting blood
Most persons tolerate the acid-like sensation and can be seen in a Quickcare clinic
What will your doctor ask?
Your doctor will want to know your symptoms. Remember, a symptom is a description of your condition to your doctor. It is your story
Answering the following questions will help your doctor understand your story
Where in the stomach is it located?
What makes if better?
What makes it worse?
How bad is the pain? On a scale from 1-10.
What do you have associated with it? Vomiting blood or having black stools is bad. Why? Because the acid may be causing bleeds to the lining of the stomach
Usually ulcer pain is “burning” or “acidy” in the stomach area. Some may get reflux.
What will your doctor look for?
Your doctor will look for signs. A sign is an objective finding that a doctor sees during the examination.
Key is the abdominal exam. Is there pain over the stomach? Your doctor will palpate for masses, swelling and rebound tenderness.
Ideally the abdomen should be soft. Is the stomach hard and distended?
Ultrasound may be used. When pushing the ultrasound probe on the lower end of the stomach (pylorus), the sharp pain elicited indicates an acid-mediated etiology.
What is the doctor thinking?
Your doctor will create a mental list of possible reasons for your signs and symptoms. This list is called the differential diagnosis
Hmmm. Naturally, a doctor will think of an ulcer. Just need to make sure it is not a condition that needs surgery. That is, no fever, no distended abdomen, no vomiting blood, no fever.
Then, if it is an ulcer, is it caused by a bacteria, Helicobacter pylori?
A breath, blood or stool test which looks for the bacteria will confirm the diagnosis.
What is the treatment of H Pylori?
I give my patients who have a pylori infection a prescription of a Prevpak. This is a combination of both antibiotics and antacids. After I took it (yes, I was infected), I felt so much better in two weeks.
How long will you be sick?
With the appropriate treatment of a Prevpak, most persons are better in 2 weeks.
A lab recheck in two weeks is a good idea
Let me tell you a story
I remember the lecture so clearly. A very attractive surgeon was describing her procedure to resolve stomach ulcers. She put up a picture of a stomach She showed all the nerves which attach to it.
The nerves are responsible for producing the acid. So if the nerves are cut then the acid decreases. Cutting the nerves to decrease the acid was just what doctors used to do.
Fast forward to today. There are a variety of pills to decrease acid.
Just in time to help one of my patients named Bubba… He was not the sharpest knife in the pile.
He told me: “UH, my stomach. It’s on fire. It’s like I swallowed a bottle of
acid. I drank milk but it’s not helping. I talked to my ex-step-grandma who said it sounds like an ulcer”
He had a burning/acidy pain in the pit of his stomach that got better when he ate. He had no associated vomiting or diarrhea
Who would ever think that a little bacteria could cause acid production with subsequent ulcers?
I hope this helps