All About H Pylori

Are you experiencing burping throughout the day? Perhaps you feel nauseous in the morning when you first wake up, or you feel unsure if you’re full or hungry. You might even have some upper GI symptoms. Today, we will discuss H. pylori, which is common in 50% of the population.

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What do you need to know about H. pylori?

H. pylori is a bacterial infection that presents itself in the stomach. It can happen for several reasons. 

One, it is highly transmissible. Sharing drinks with family or friends is a common way to transmit H. pylori. Additionally, factors such as poor digestion and protective mechanisms can contribute to its spread.

Decreased stomach acid or pancreatic elastase may lead to reduced digestive capability, particularly in the stomach, thereby increasing the risk of H. pylori infection. Interestingly, even if two individuals share a drink with an infected person, one may contract the infection while the other remains unaffected, akin to other infectious diseases.

How H. pylori can be associated with peptic ulcer

H. pylori is also one of the main reasons why we get peptic ulcers.

In the past, we would always say that an ulcer was due to stress. While there is some truth to that based on stress-driven inflammation, gastric changes, and a decrease in stomach acid, the primary reason that we get that is because of H. pylori specifically. 

When I see adults that go through their timeline and understand that, as a kid, they were having all of these GI issues and were typically treated with a proton pump inhibitor, I always question, “Did they have H. pylori at that time and it wasn’t diagnosed or treated appropriately?” 

If left untreated, it can lead to gastritis and eventually peptic ulcers. It can also cause a variety of other symptoms.

Symptoms of H. pylori

Burping is a common symptom of H. pylori. If someone burps frequently throughout the day or pays special attention to it, it may indicate this condition. 

Other symptoms may include waking up feeling nauseous, being unsure if they’re hungry or full throughout the day, bloating, and classic reflux-type symptoms. Constipation, diarrhea, or bowel changes can also occur. Keep in mind that all symptoms can overlap with any gastrointestinal issue.

Diagnosis and treatment

The most conventional test is actually a breath test. However, a really great way to test for H. pylori is a stool test. You can test specifically for H. pylori as well as do it as part of a comprehensive stool analysis. 

Regardless of the diagnostic method, prompt treatment is crucial if H. pylori is detected due to its potential downstream effects. Even if other issues, such as dysbiosis or high inflammatory markers, are present, prioritizing H. pylori treatment is essential. Fortunately, treatment is relatively straightforward, with successful outcomes achievable.

What treatment is available?

Traditionally, H. pylori is used to be treated solely with antibiotics. Still, in those cases, it only works in 50% of the cases, and in addition to that, as you can imagine, with antibiotics, it’s causing a whole host of other issues. 

H. pylori can actually be treated with mastic gum, which is from the unique resin of a Mediterranean tree. This can be used up to 1,000 mg twice a day for 2 to 3 months and is highly effective in remedying H. pylori. 

Although someone might be experiencing low stomach acid in addition to having H. pylori, it’s recommended not to necessarily use hydrochloric acid or stomach acid as a supplement while treating H. pylori.

This can be reassessed after you finish the treatment successfully, but a lot of times, when someone might be having some of these upper GI issues, it is because of H. pylori. Once again, you can treat the subsequent low stomach acid as needed. There are different schools of thought on this, but clinically speaking, what I found to be very helpful is treating it and then addressing the low stomach acid. And last but not least, do not share your drinks and food with others, even if you love them.

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