The vague symptoms produced by H. pylori, including fatigue, upper stomach pain and heartburn, are often dismissed as signs of aging or stress, says Jill Carnahan, MD, a physician in Boulder, Colorado. As a result, although Martin J. Blaser, MD, a rofessor at the NYU Langone Medical Center, says that half of women are infected with this ulcer-causing bug, many of them are never diagnosed or treated.
H. pylori creates enzymes that damage the protective mucous lining in the stomach and small intestine, plus hinder nutrient absorption.
Its not clear how H. pylori is transmitted, but consuming contaminated food or water, or coming into contact with saliva or stool from an infected person could be to blame.
The best way to confirm H. pylori is to ask your doctor for the urea breath test or a stool antigen test.
If you test positive, your doctor will likely prescribe a 14-day dose of antibiotics, since this hardy bug is particularly difficult to eradicate.
While you wait for the antibiotics to clear the infection, Dr. Carnahan recommends taking 350 mg of deglycyrrhizinated licorice with meals for up to 8 weeks to ease GI symptoms. Also smart: supplementing indefinitely with a probiotic to recolonize the gut with good bacteria and prevent reinfection.
Your doctor may also recommend supplementing with 3 to 6 grams of glutamine, an amino acid that can heal cells on the intestinal wall, or taking 350 mg of mastic gum 2 to 3 times a day to ease symptoms.
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