Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) is a type bacteria that resides in the stomach of 50% of humans. In most cases, it can be harmless. However, in some people it can cause acid reflux, peptic ulcers and even can cause stomach cancer. If you suspect you may have an H pylori infection, your doctor may recommend a test to confirm the diagnosis. But with so many different types of tests available (and lots of fake ones online), it can be hard to know which one is right for you. This guide will break down the pros and cons of each test to help you make an informed decision.
Blood Testing For H Pylori
Blood tests are a common way to test for H pylori. These tests look for antibodies in your blood, produced by your body produces in response to the H Pylori bacteria. While blood tests are non-invasive and easy to perform, they aren't always accurate. Antibodies can remain in your blood for many years after an H pylori infection has been treated, which can lead to false positives. Blood tests are also not as sensitive as other tests, meaning they may miss an active infection. It is not our preferred test for the nutritionists that work at GoodGut Nutrition.
Stool Testing For H Pylori
Stool tests are another very common way to test for H pylori. These tests look for the presence of H pylori in your stool. Stool tests are non-invasive and easy to perform, but they may not always be accurate. H pylori can be difficult to detect in stool samples, and the bacteria may not be present in every stool sample. Stool tests are also not as sensitive as other tests, meaning they may miss an active infection. However, stool tests can be a good option for people who cannot undergo other types of tests, such as those with bleeding disorders or who are taking blood thinners.
Breath Testing For H Pylori
Breath test for H pylori are another good option. These tests measure the levels of carbon dioxide in your breath before and after you drink a solution containing urea. If H pylori is present in your stomach, it will break down the urea and release carbon dioxide gas, which can be detected in your breath. Breath tests are non-invasive and easy to perform, and they are also highly accurate. However, they may not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as they require deep breathing.
Endoscopy and Biopsy For H Pylori
Endoscopy and biopsy are the gold standard for diagnosing a H pylori infection. During an endoscopy, a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted through the mouth and into the stomach. The doctor can then visually inspect both the esophagus and the stomach lining for signs of inflammation, ulcers or cancers, and take a small tissue sample also known as a biopsy, for testing.
Biopsy samples can be tested for the presence of H pylori using a variety of methods, including rapid urease testing, histology, and culture. Endoscopy and biopsy are the most accurate tests for H pylori, but they are invasive and require sedation. They may also be more expensive than other tests and may not be readily available in all healthcare settings.
Serology tests, also known as blood tests, detect the presence of antibodies to H pylori in the blood. These tests are non-invasive and can be done in a doctor’s office or lab. However, they are not as accurate as endoscopy and biopsy, particularly in people who have been treated for H pylori in the past or have recently taken antibiotics.