Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria that causes chronic inflammation of the stomach. It is the single most common infection in the world, as over 50% of all people worldwide are infected. The vast majority of patients do not have symptoms with this infection, although some (about 10-20%) will develop ulcers in the stomach or their small intestine. H. pylori has also been found to be one of the causes of gastric cancer and MALT lymphoma.
There are multiple treatment options for H. pylori. Most options involve two different antibiotics in addition to a proton-pump inhibitor (like prilosec, prevacid, nexium, aciphex or protonix), but there are other treatment regimens. While these regimens are usually successful, it is important to be sure that the bacteria have been completely eradicated. To do that, we perform urease breath testing. This non-invasive test is done in the office and is very effective in determining if any H. pylori infection remains. The test takes about 30 minutes.
What to Expect
It is important that you do not take ANY antibiotics for the four weeks preceding the test. Since antibiotics are used for the treatment, this means that the breath test should not be done until at least one month after you have completed therapy.
No proton-pump inhibitors may be used in the four weeks preceding treatment either. This means that you cannot take the following for four weeks prior:
- prilosec (or omeprazole)
- prevacid (or lansoprazole)
- protonix (or pantoprazole)
You may use:
... And medications like:
to help with your symptoms in the meantime. You should not eat anything one hour before the test.
Once you get to the office, you will be given a shake to drink which will help determine if the bacteria is still there. About 15 minutes later, you will take several breaths and exhale into a special bag which collects your air sample. You can then go home.
This bag is sent to a laboratory where it is analyzed. You can call the office about seven days later for the results.