WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a common type of bacteria that can cause an infection in the lining of the stomach and upper intestine. People are usually infected with the bacteria as children, but may not have symptoms until they are adults. It may be spread by drinking dirty water and eating food that is not clean or cooked well.
Do not take any medicine that has aspirin or ibuprofen in it. These medicines can cause stomach bleeding. The following medicines may be ordered for you:
- Antibiotics help kill the bacteria. You may need to take this medicine for 10 to 14 days. Your primary healthcare provider will prescribe 2 antibiotics at the same time.
- Antiulcer medicines help decrease the amount of acid that is normally made by the stomach. These help heal or prevent ulcers.
- Bismuth is a liquid or tablet that may be used to decrease heartburn, upset stomach, or diarrhea. It may also decrease swelling in your stomach and help kill the bacteria if other medicines do not work. It also protects ulcers from stomach acid so they can heal.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or specialist as directed:
You may need more tests after treatment to see if your infection is gone. You may also need different antibiotics to kill the infection. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Help prevent H. pylori infection:
- Wash your hands well with soap and warm water. Clean your hands before you eat and after you use the bathroom.
- Rinse food well, and cook it properly before you eat it. This will help kill any bacteria that may be on your food.
- Drink clean water from a safe source. Only drink water that has been filtered or purified.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol when you have an H. pylori infection. These habits could worsen your symptoms of heartburn and may increase your risk of cancer.
- Avoid use of NSAIDs. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems if not taken correctly. Your primary healthcare provider may tell you to avoid these medicines because they can make your symptoms worse.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- Your symptoms do not improve with treatment.
- You lose weight without trying.
- You feel full after eating only a small amount of food.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have bloody bowel movements, bloody vomit, or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.
- You have sudden, sharp stomach pain that does not go away or spreads to your back.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.