WHAT IS HELICOBACTER PYLORI
Helicobacter Pylori is a very common infection (present in up to 50% of the population) that is thought to be a factor in the development of stomach and duodenal ulcers (peptic ulcers). It is a bacterium that causes chronic gastritis (inflammation) of the stomach lining. Symptoms of peptic ulcers include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain/discomfort. Some ulcers may bleed which can cause fatigue.
The bacteria can survive because it can penetrate the stomach lining and produce by-products that neutralise the gastric acid around it, thereby creating a protective environment. When a Helicobacter Pylori breath test is performed, the tablet that is consumed contains Urea. The bacteria breaks this Urea down releasing a carbon atom. The breath test can measure this carbon for the presence of Helicobacter Pylori through the collection of breath samples which are then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
WHY CHOOSE A BREATH TEST
A blood test can only detect antibodies to Helicobacter Pylori and therefore cannot distinguish between a previous infection and a current one as the antibodies can remain in your body for some time. A blood test cannot be used to determine if your Helicobacter Pylori has been eradicated following treatment [Medline Plus]. Post treatment a Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test or Stool Antigen test is recommended.
TREATING HELICOBACTER PYLORI
If you are positive for Helicobacter Pylori, you will need to see your G.P who may prescribe you a combination of antibiotics (usually two antibiotics) and an acid reducing tablet (Proton Pump Inhibitor). This treatment is called triple therapy. Sometimes the Helicobacter Pylori infection is not cured with the first triple therapy treatment. To see if the bacterial infection has been successfully eradicated, a second breath test may be performed at least 30 days following treatment.
Test Duration: Up to 20 minutes
Testing Age: Over 16 years
Referral: GP or Consultant referral required
Results: Approx 5 working days
Test Fee: €100