H. Pylori infection

My Experience with H. pylori

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!

Endoscopy Results

Sorry I have taken forever to post about my endoscopy! For a quick review, I was diagnosed with a H. pylori infection in July, was given strong antibiotics for two weeks and had to have an endoscopy on August 16th.

About the endoscopy:

Basically, an endoscopy is a medical procedure to look inside your body. Mine was performed to look at my esophagus, stomach and duodenum to see if I still had a stomach infection.

The doctor put me under anesthesia, inserted a tube with a camera on it into my mouth, down my throat, & into my stomach and took a lot of scrapes (or biopsies) of my stomach and esophagus. I scheduled my appointment bright and early so I wouldn’t have to fast all day for the procedure. What can I say, I hate being hungry ;).

I arrived at the office, checked in, got my id band, and was ushered into a recovery/prep room where I had to change into a hospital gown.

A nurse inserted an IV with fluids into my arm and my bed was rolled into the room where the endoscopy was performed. I chatted about Spinning (LOL!) a little with the doctor and nurses before the anesthesiologist  randomly “put me to sleep” in the middle of my discussion of Spin bikes with one of the nurses. Oh well!

I woke up about an hour or so later back in my recovery/prep room. My mom was waiting for me in there and I made her take a picture (or two..) of me so I could make fun of myself later. I was a little loopy ;).  A nurse gave me some water in a Styrofoam cup. After I finished the cup my mom offered to throw it away for me but I just whipped it on the ground and started cracking up for no reason. Good times! LOLZ.

My mom and I headed home and I made her take me to Red Lobster (because we had a gift card .. yaaaay) when I wasn’t “under the influence” anymore. My throat was sore for a few days, but other than that I was fine.

The only thing the doctor said the day of the endoscopy was that I have esophagitis, which is when the esophagus is irritated due to stomach acid back flowing into it. It can be chronic or acute (chronic in my case) and causes symptoms like heart burn and ulcers. It’s pretty manageable with some diet/lifestyle changes, so I’m not worried about it too much.

I got the results about the infection about a week after the test. The biopsies of my stomach were negative for the infection!! I’m in the clear :).

I am so thankful and really learned a lot from this experience. I have a lot of compassion for others who are sick or taking medications, I became a lot closer to God, my family, & Jimmy and I really appreciate my health. I’m so glad that I don’t have the start the school year on the insane medication I had to take in July-August!

Thank you to everyone who commented, tweeted, emailed, and text messaged me during this tough time in my life. It meant more than you will ever know ❤

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Bible verse of the day: Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. Psalm 30:2

Edited to add: If you want to talk to me about my experience with H. Pylori and the medicine I took, please feel free to email me at allie(at)southboundenterprises(dot)com. Thanks!