I was diagnosed with an H. pylori infection in July 2012, and to this day I still get views on my posts about that time in my life. I figured it would be a good idea to create a sort of master post to detail my journey through H. pylori for anyone that finds my blog and is struggling with the infection.
What is H. pylori?
According to WebMD, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria that can enter one’s body and live in the digestive tract. H. pylori can cause ulcers in the lining of the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine. For some people, an infection can lead to stomach cancer.
H. pylori can be contracted from food, water, or utensils. It’s more common in countries that lack clean water or good sewage systems. You can also pick up the bacteria through contact with the saliva or other body fluids of infected people.
I have no idea how I was infected with H. pylori, but it was pretty rough. For months, I struggled with a burning stomach pain, heartburn, bloating, weight loss, and bloody stools.
Once I was diagnosed with H. pylori, my doctor immediately prescribed me a triple therapy medication called PrevPac. Each day of the triple therapy medication protocol I took eight pills; four in the morning and four in the evening.
PrevPac includes a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), and two antibiotics. The PPI works to block acid production in the stomach, which can help existing ulcers heal. The antibiotics treat the infection by stopping the growth of bacteria.
I won’t lie, my experience with PrevPac wasn’t fun. I had a lot of the common side effects such as nausea, a metallic taste in my mouth, and fatigue. The nausea was definitely the worst symptom to deal with. I just felt like I couldn’t function.
I took PrevPac for two weeks, and then my gastroenterologist performed an endoscopy to biopsy parts of my esophagus, stomach, and duodenum to check if the infection was still present.
The endoscopy wasn’t bad at all. I had an IV inserted, was put under anesthesia, and woke up about an hour later. The only side effects I had from the endoscopy were a sore throat and mild stomach pain. A week later, I found out that the biopsies tested negative for the infection, so the medication had worked.
Unfortunately, I will always carry the antibodies for H. pylori. If you were to test my blood for H. pylori today, it would show up as positive for a presence of the bacteria.
Thankfully, most ulcers and side effects of H. pylori usually heal after a few weeks of treatment. One way H. pylori still impacts me today is that I generally try to avoid NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Naproxen, etc. because they can damage the lining of the stomach.
From the time of diagnosis until I was in the clear after my endoscopy was an intense time in my life. I felt pretty sick from the medication, but was urged to try and take it no matter what so my body didn’t build up a resistance to the antibiotics. I didn’t feel like myself for a few months, but I’m blessed that I was able to learn what was wrong and take medication to treat it!
Past posts on my infection
If you have any questions about H. pylori, feel free to email me (alliezottola (at) gmail (dot) com) or leave a comment!