The H Pylori [Helicobacter pylori] blood test is used to help diagnose an infection that is caused by this bacteria. It will also be used to evaluate what treatment plan may be necessary to relieve a patient’s symptoms. When there is an infection of the H Pylori bacteria, then there is an increased risk of developing a peptic ulcer, having chronic gastritis, and in rare cases can even be part of the cause behind the development of stomach cancer.
In addition to blood testing, a medical provider may request stool samples or a breath test to help determine the presence of this bacteria. In extreme cases, an endoscopy may be necessary in order for a tissue sample to be taken for direct testing. The blood test is not usually recommended on its own for routine diagnosis or evaluation as it cannot distinguish a previous infection from a current one.
When To Ask About the H Pylori Blood Test
The H Pylori blood test will be considered by a medical provider when a patient presents with gastrointestinal discomfort or pain. This pain may be constant or come and go over time. There may also be unexplained weight loss happening, frequent indigestion, nausea, chronic belching, and a feeling of always being full. Feeling bloated is a common complaint when there is an active H Pylori infection.
Some people may experience severe signs and symptoms of this bacterial infection and require immediate medical treatment. This includes stomach pain that is severe and does not go away. Signs of bleeding within the gastrointestinal tract, including tarry black stools or vomit that has what looks like coffee grounds in it, may also be present.
What Do My H Pylori Blood Test Results Mean?
The blood test results, if administered by a medical provider as the first testing option, will either be positive or negative. If the blood test is negative, then this is an indication that you’ve never had this bacterial infection and that there is another issue which is causing your bothersome signs and symptoms. If symptoms persist after a negative blood test, however, a tissue biopsy may become necessary to fully rule out this infection.
A positive result means that you either have a current H Pylori infection or that you’ve had one in the past at some point. A medical provider will then perform follow-up testing to determine if the infection is current or not.
For children, the blood test is the preferred method of determining whether or not an infection is present as it is unlikely that they would have already had a previous infection.
Here’s What You Need To Know
There are many reasons why someone may be experiencing stomach pain. This bacterial infection is simply one of those causes. If the blood test and other tests come back as possible, the most common method of treatment to remove the infection is a prescribed regiment of antibiotics. After the antibiotic series, your doctor may request follow-up H Pylori testing to make sure that the infection has been removed.
Using antacids to help calm down stomach discomfort while there is an active infection can cause some of the H Pylori tests to come back with a false negative result. This will not affect the H Pylori blood test, but because in adults the test is considered to be unreliable as a diagnostic tool, the false negative results of other tests may delay treatment. You will be asked to stop taking antacids for at least 7 days before testing.
Other medications and stomach treatments are also known to interfere with test results other than the H Pylori blood test. This includes proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole and certain bismuth preparations that are available over-the-counter. You may be asked to stop taking these items for up to 14 days before your testing for accurate results.
An H Pylori infection is not something that will typically go away on its own. If you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of stomach discomfort that are mentioned in this guide, then it may be necessary to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss the possibility of needing this blood test or other testing methods. The H Pylori blood test may only give definitive results for children, but it can help adults address their stomach discomfort so that a treatment plan can be developed.
Keep in mind as well that ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding are serious conditions which may require immediate medical treatment.