Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) (cont.)
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What is the treatment for H. pylori?
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The therapy for Helicobacter pylori infection involves multiple steps. In addition to antibiotics to eradicate the bacteria, another goal is to decrease the amount of acid secretion in the stomach and remove risk factors for further stomach irritation.
A two week course of combination antibiotic therapy is recommended.
Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blocker medications decrease acid secretion in the stomach and are often prescribed for a minimum of two weeks.
Bismuth therapy with Pepto- Bismol is sometimes recommended, especially if the first round of antibiotic therapy failed. Please remember that this treatment will cause stools to turn black.
Can H. pylori infection be prevented?
Personal hygiene is the first step in decreasing human to human transmission. This is especially important for those involved in food preparation, either in the home or in public places. Vaccines to prevent the infection are being developed but are still in the research phase and not available for human use.
Helicobacter pylori is a worldwide epidemic, and the bacteria have infected humans for thousands of years. It is seen more frequently in populations afflicted with poverty and lack of access to clean water and sewage removal. Increasing basic living standards and providing clean water should decrease the potential for infection.
The diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori infection usually follows the diagnosis of gastritis or ulcer disease. With adequate antibiotic therapy, the bacteria should be eradicated and the risk of future complications decreased. While the infection may be gone, it is important to continue behavioral modification to prevent stomach inflammation from non-infectious causes.
REFERENCE: Crowe, SE. et al. "Patient information: Helicobacter pylori infection and treatment (Beyond the Basics)." UpToDate.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/20/2015
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