Why use the urea breath test?
The urea breath test is a non-invasive, fast, and extremely accurate (95% sensitivity and specificity) means for testing for the presence of active H. pylori infection. Peer reviews consistently rank the urea breath test as the best method to detect H. pylori infection for differential diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease and chronic active gastritis. The test is also ideal for monitoring therapetic outcomes and confirmation of cure.
What are the symptoms of H. pylori Infection?
The initial sign of peptic ulcer disease is an upset stomach. The epigastric pain is often described as burning or gnawing that goes through to the back. Pain comes several hours after a meal when the stomach is empty and is often worse at night. The epigastric pain lasts from a few minutes to several hours and may be relieved by food, antacids or vomiting.
What is the principle of the Urea Breath Test?
The diagnostic drug component of the urea breath test kit is 13C-urea contained in a granulated power (Pranactin®-Citric). Each three (3) gram dose of Pranactin-Citric contains 75 mg 13C-urea, citric acid, aspartame and mannitol. The Pranactin-Citric powder is mixed with potable water for oral ingestion by the patient. A baseline breath sample and a 15-minute Post-Dose breath sample are collected into breath bags.
In the presence of H. pylori organism, urea is converted by the bacterial enzyme urease to 13CO2 and ammonia. The 13CO2 is absorbed in the blood and then exhaled in the breath. This results in an increase in the ratio of 13CO2 to 12CO2 in expired breath in the Post-Dose breath sample. In the absence of H. pylori, the Post-Dose breath sample has essentially the same amount of 13CO2 as the baseline breath.
How do I treat H. pylori?
When H. pylori infection is identified, the most widely used front-line therapy consists of 7 to 14 days of a proton pump inhibitor, clarithromycin and amoxicillin. Metronidazole may be used as an alternative to amoxicillin, particularly in the setting of a penicillin allergy or intolerance. This therapy eliminates the bacteria and prevents recurrence of ulcers in 75 to 80% of people who receive the treatment. Unfortunately, side effects of this treatment are common. Several new antibiotic alternatives exist that require less treatment time and simpler treatment regimens.
Many natural remedies have also been suggested and have shown to have efficacy. For example, a Japanese study in April 2009 found that broccoli is an effective natural remedy of the H. pylori bacteria. It is thought that sulforphanes found in broccoli sprouts have antimicrobial properties. In 1998, an Israeli study found that extracts of cinnamon inhibited urease enzymes from catalyzing reactions in H. pylori cells. There are several other substances that have been offered to counteract H. pylori including herbs like garlic and ginger, oils such as coconut and oregano oil and apple cider vinegar, mastic gum, acetyl-l-carnosine, cran-actin and many more natural alternatives. Pre and post probiotics are also a necessity.