H. Pylori Diagnosis
How do I know if I have H. Pylori?
H. Pylori infects 1 person out of every 2. Odds are that you have H. Pylori or know someone that does. Most infected individuals have no problems at all, however a few people will experience some very uncomfortable side effects. The frequency and severity of side effects differs greatly from person to person but can include things such as:
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
- Heartburn or acid reflux lasting extended periods of time
- Dull or sharp stomach pain
- Stomach cancer
- And numerous others
- Peptic ulcer
The reason that the H. Pylori infection rate is so high is that it is easily passed through contact with saliva or fecal matter. Mothers can even pass H. Pylori to their children before they are born. How do you find out if your symptoms are a result of H. Pylori? There are 4 different tests that can be done. Those that experience any symptoms should seek H. Pylori treatment.
H. Pylori Urea Beath Test
This is the easiest, least invasive and most accurate method of testing for H. Pylori infection. The patient swallows a harmless pill filled with radioactive urea. 10-20 minutes later, a breath test is administered to test for the presence of radioactive carbon dioxide. If radioactive carbon dioxide is found, it means that the patient currently has an active H. Pylori infection and should seek treatment. The reason this test works is that when H. Pylori comes in contact with the urea it breaks it down and emits carbon dioxide. The urea breath test is also administered after the use of antibiotics to determine if they have successfully eradicated the H. Pylori bacteria.
Be sure not to eat or drink anything except for water before your test as this can obscure the results. Not knowing I would be tested, I had a Coke before going to the doctor and they needed to do a (painful) blood draw instead.
H. Pylori Blood Antibodies Test
This H. Pylori testing method uses a sample of blood to determine if you are currently infected. The blood sample is tested for H. Pylori antibodies, which your body naturally produces if you have the bacteria. This test should not be used to check if a treatment was effective as the antibodies can remain in your blood stream for many years after infection.
H. Pylori Endoscopy Test
While this test is the most invasive option, it also helps the doctor to evaluate the severity of the peptic ulcer commonly caused by H. Pylori infection. A flexible tube (endoscope) is inserted through the mouth and down into the stomach. The endoscope gives the doctor a live view of the inside of your stomach where they then take a biopsy. The biopsy is placed on a slide and a urea test is performed, not unlike the one described above.If the test is positive, the area on the slide directly surrounding the biopsied tissue will change color.
H. Pylori Stool Sample Test
This is the most recently developed method of testing for H. Pylori. For this H. Pylori test, a small stool sample is taken from the patient. An H. Pylori antibody is used to test for the presence of H. Pylori in the stool. The stool sample test, like the urea breath test, can be used after an antibiotic therapy to determine if treatment was successful.
Testing For H. Pylori At Home
There are number of "do-it-yourself" at home H. Pylori test kits available online and in pharmacies. For example, the contains 15 tests and uses a small blood sample. See the blood antibodies test above for a description of how this works. Be aware that many of the H. Pylori testing kits available online are intended for lab use, not home use. For more information on getting rid of H. Pylori, head over to the Rapid Response H. Pylori Test KitH. Pylori Treatment hub.