Ask The Expert
May 14, 2010
No. The only way to get rid of H. pylori is with antibiotics, which are used along with a type of drug called proton pump inhibitors. (One example is omeprazole.)
At least two antibiotics must be used together. They are taken with the proton pump inhibitor for 10 to 14 days.
Recommended antibiotics include:
Treatment wipes out H. pylori about 80% of the time.
Your side effects
Most people who harbor H. pylori in their stomach lining have no symptoms. If you have a history of a stomach or duodenal ulcer, getting rid of H. pylori becomes very important because this bug most likely caused the ulcer and may later cause another one.
However, if your major problem is dyspepsia (a sense of fullness, pain, burning or bloating in the upper abdomen), the likelihood of feeling better after being treated for H. pylori is quite low. One group of experts estimated that only 1 in 14 people experience substantial benefit over the long term.
Perhaps a more worrisome issue among those who harbor H. pylori is that they have an increased risk of developing stomach cancer. Treatment might reduce this risk.
Stomach cancer is an uncommon type of cancer in the United States, so even with an increased risk, the likelihood of ever getting such a cancer is very low. So low, in fact, that I know of no colleagues who subject people with persistent H. pylori to screening endoscopy to try to detect early stomach cancer.