Alexandra Falconer | 13 Aug 2020 | Gut Health, Gut Health, Test

Helicobacter Pylori And The NHS

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Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria that around half the world’s population carries in their stomachs (Source: PUBMED). Not many bacteria can live in that harsh acidic environment, but H. pylori loves it there. Unfortunately, as H. pylori is one of the leading causes of stomach ulcers, you don’t want it hanging around. Read on to find out if you could have H. pylori, how to get a test, and how to beat it.

Contents

What Are The Symptoms Of Helicobacter Pylori According To The NHS?
How Do You Get Helicobacter Pylori Infection?
How Can I Avoid Getting H. Pylori?
What Does It Mean If You Test Positive For H Pylori?
How Is The Healthpath Approach Different?
Can Helicobacter Pylori Be Cured?
Conclusion
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What are the symptoms of Helicobacter pylori according to the NHS?

The NHS say that abdominal pain is the most common symptom of H. pylori infection. This discomfort usually presents as pain that:

  • is a dull, gnawing ache
  • comes and goes for several days or weeks
  • happens two to three hours after a meal
  • wakes you up in the night
  • is relieved by eating and antacid medications

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How do you get Helicobacter pylori infection?

We still don’t know exactly how H. pylori could infect you. It appears that H. pylori bacteria travel from person to person through saliva, vomit or faeces (poo). It could also be spread through contaminated food or water.
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How can I avoid getting H. pylori?

You can avoid getting H. pylori by minimising possible contact with the bacteria.

Children often get H. pylori infections. Interestingly, some can harbour it for life and show no symptoms. However, research shows that eradicating it is still important because the bacteria often cause inflammation in the stomach that can lead to other problems down the track (Source: PUBMED).

You’re more likely to have an H. pylori infection if you’ve been exposed to the bacteria. For example, if you:

  • live in crowded conditions: you have a greater risk of H. pylori infection if you live in a home with many other people.
  • live without a reliable supply of clean water: having a reliable supply of clean, running water helps reduce the risk of H. pylori.
  • live in a developing country: people living in developing countries, where crowded and unsanitary living conditions may be more common, have a higher risk of H. pylori infection.
  • live with someone who has an H. pylori infection: if someone you live with has an H. pylori infection, you’re more likely to also have H. pylori infection.

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What does it mean if you test positive for H. pylori?

If you get an H. pylori test from your doctor, he or she will give you something called ‘triple therapy’ to get rid of the bacteria.

You will normally need to take a combination of two different antibiotics, together with another drug that reduces your stomach acid. Lowering stomach acid helps the antibiotics work more effectively.

Some of the drugs that are used in a triple therapy treatment include:

  • the antibiotic clarithromycin
  • the antibiotic metronidazole (for 7 to 14 days)
  • the antibiotic amoxicillin (for 7 to 14 days)
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), for example lansoprazole or esomeprazole

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How is the Healthpath approach different?

If your Healthpath Gut Health Test shows that you have an H. pylori infection, you have two options. Firstly, we recommend that you let your GP know right away.

After you’ve heard their advice, you can choose to go down the conventional medicine route (which will probably be the triple therapy mentioned above), or you can choose to use the Healthpath protocol you’ll get along with your Gut Health Test results.

Testing for H. pylori is just a tiny part of the Healthpath Gut Health Test. By looking at imbalances in bacteria, yeasts, parasites and other intestinal health biomarkers, you can find out what’s contributing to your symptoms and get a window into the workings of your gut.

You also receive targeted diet, supplement and lifestyle recommendations to help you take back control. You’ll get clinical information on the following:

Your microbiome

This provides insight into the diversity of your bacteria, your ‘enterotype’ and your dysbiosis index. These are all important and interconnected components that shed light on the health of your digestive system.

Biomarkers

These reflect both your ability to break down and absorb your food, and any immune system activity. This helps us understand whether food sensitivities or gut infections are contributing to your symptoms.

Bacteria, yeasts and/or parasites

This section gives details of organisms that have been detected in your digestive system.

Check out a sample Gut Health Test report to discover how a Healthpath Gut Health Test could be your most useful tool on your journey to great gut health.

If you decide to use the Healthpath approach to tackle your H. pylori infection, we’ll approach the problem holistically. Eliminating the bacteria is just one part of a protocol that will also aim to heal the damage that H. pylori bacteria can do, and support the immune system to minimise the chance of the infection coming back.

Your Healthpath Functional Medicine Practitioner or Nutritional Therapist will:

  • attempt to eliminate H. pylori using plant-based antimicrobials
  • protect, soothe and heal the stomach lining using clinical-grade supplements and nutrients
  • try to stop it coming back by balancing the bacteria that live throughout your whole gut using probiotics, prebiotics and other targeted supplements

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Can Helicobacter pylori be cured?

If you have H. pylori, there’s a good chance that the triple therapy or antimicrobials will cure it. However, 10-23% of people who go through triple therapy will need more treatment (Source: NCBI).

If you use an antibiotic, there’s a risk (with some more than others), that in the future, that particular antibiotic will not be as effective. This is known as antibiotic resistance. Because this happens in some cases with people who repeatedly go through triple therapy (Source: PUBMED), researchers have looked into the effectiveness of herbal antimicrobials to beat H. Pylori (Source: NCBI).

Herbal antimicrobials have been shown to clear H. pylori with minimal side effects (Source: PUBMED). Many are also easy to find and affordable, and have gone through rigorous testing to assess their potency against H. pylori.

However, although the herbal antimicrobials used by Functional Medicine Practitioners and Registered Nutritional Therapists have been proven to eradicate H. pylori, there’s no guarantee they will work either (Source: PUBMED).

The eradication rate of H. pylori isn’t 100%. That means that it’s impossible to clear in some people. However this is rare.

Your immune system plays a big part in how your body responds to H. pylori, and how easily you might be able to clear it (Source: NCBI). While we can’t say that looking after your gut will protect you from either catching the bacteria, or its effects, great gut health remains one of your most powerful weapons in preventing and beating disease.

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Key takeaways

  • H. pylori is a kind of bacteria found in the stomachs of half the world’s population
  • It’s a cause of stomach ulcers, and can cause pain, nausea, burping, bloating and weight loss
  • If you think you might have H. pylori, you can ask your doctor for a test, or get a comprehensive Gut Health Test here at Healthpath, which—on top of the H. pylori test—gives you a window into the many possible reasons behind your gut symptoms
  • If you do have H. pylori, you need to let your doctor know, who is likely to prescribe antibiotics and a drug to suppress acid levels in your stomach
  • If you choose to address H. pylori through Healthpath, our Functional Medicine Practitioners and Registered Nutritional Therapists will use a holistic approach, including antimicrobials and digestive support to heal the gut and try to prevent re-infection

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Author

Alexandra Falconer MA (Dist) DipCNM mBANT is a Registered Nutritional Therapist specialising in IBS and related conditions. A graduate of Brighton’s College of Naturopathic Medicine, she is committed to fighting the root causes of chronic illness and bringing functional medicine to everyone who needs it.

Before her natural health career, Alex was a journalist and copywriter. She continues to write for magazines and media agencies, and now combines her two great passions—writing and health—by creating content that empowers people to claim their right to a healthy body and mind.
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