WHAT IS A HELICOBACTER PYLORI LAB TEST?
The Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) Test is a blood test used to look for antibodies to the H. pylori bacterium.
AM I REQUIRED TO FAST FOR THIS LAB TEST?
H. pylori is a bacterium that is able to thrive in the acidic environment of the stomach. The bacterium is the cause of peptic ulcer disease which leads to pain, weight loss, nausea, vomiting and indigestion. It reduces the body’s ability to produce mucus in the stomach by burrowing into the lining of the stomach causing pain and damage due to the increased exposure to stomach acid. H. pylori may also increase the amount of acid in the stomach and attach to the stomach wall causing inflammation, a condition called gastritis.
H. pylori is especially common in developing countries and research has shown that a regimen of antibiotics and other medications can eliminate the bacterium and reduce the pain and bleeding associated with a peptic ulcer. The H. pylori bacterium has also been linked to gastric (stomach) cancer.
WHY DO I NEED A HELICOBACTER PYLORI LAB TEST?
Do you have gastrointestinal pain, unexplained weight loss, nausea or vomiting?
Your symptoms could be caused by the H. pylori bacterium. An infection, and resulting peptic ulcer, can be easily treated with antibiotics. 80% of stomach ulcers and 90% of duodenal ulcers (in the upper end of the small intestines) are caused by H. pylori, so it may not be the stress or the spicy food. Pain from a peptic ulcer is usually in the abdomen, just under the ribs, that comes and goes. The pain may be worse when the stomach is empty and usually gets better with food, milk and antacids.
The H. pylori bacterium is thought to be spread through food and water and although it is more prevalent in developing countries, the National Institutes of Health estimates that 20% of Americans under 40 and half of Americans over 60 are infected. Not everyone who is infected will develop peptic ulcer disease or gastritis, but those who do are at a higher risk of gastric cancer.
A normal result is negative.
HIGH RESULTS INDICATE:
A positive result indicates the presence of antibodies to the H. pylori bacterium and peptic ulcer disease. Antibodies may still be present after treatment and the elimination of the bacteria.
LOW RESULTS INDICATE:
There are no low results. If symptoms persist after a negative result, consult your doctor for further testing.
WHAT TYPE OF PHYSICIAN SHOULD I SEE IF MY LAB TEST RESULTS ARE ABNORMAL OR OUT-OF-RANGE?
You should see your primary care physician or gastroenterologist.