H. Pylori Bacterial Infection: Care Instructions

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Your test shows the presence of Helicobacter pylori ( H. pylori), a kind of bacterium that lives in the lining of the stomach. Many people have H. pylori in their stomachs and do not develop problems. But sometimes H. pylori causes an upset stomach or a sore (ulcer) in the stomach lining. Most stomach ulcers are caused by H. pylori. Symptoms of an ulcer include gnawing or burning pain in the belly that can last minutes or hours. Eating food or taking antacids helps relieve the pain, but the symptoms may come back after a while. Antibiotic medicine can cure an H. pylori infection.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If your doctor prescribes other medicine, take it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicine your doctor prescribes.
  • Eat smaller meals more often, instead of three larger meals a day.
  • Avoid eating foods that bother you. And avoid things that can irritate your stomach lining, such as black pepper or items with caffeine (soda, tea, coffee, and chocolate).
  • Avoid eating several hours before going bed.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking slows the healing of your ulcer and can make an ulcer come back. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol can slow healing of an ulcer and can make your symptoms worse.
  • Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory medicines, because they can irritate the stomach. If you need pain medicine, try acetaminophen (Tylenol).

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • Your stools are maroon or very bloody.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You are vomiting.
  • Your stools are black and look like tar, or they have streaks of blood.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.