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Getting rid of H. pylori for stomach ulcers

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Introduction

This information is for people who have stomach ulcers. It tells you about getting rid of H. pylori, a treatment used for stomach ulcers. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

Yes. Taking treatment to get rid of H. pylori helps your ulcer heal, prevents bleeding in your ulcer, and it also reduces the chance of your ulcer coming back.

What is it?

If you have treatment to get rid of H. pylori, you'll probably be given three or four drugs. You take these drugs every day for up to two weeks. Doctors call this eradication treatment.

One of the drugs, usually a drug called a proton pump inhibitor, will reduce the amount of acid that is made by the cells in your stomach. The other drugs are antibiotics that kill the H. pylori in your stomach. To read more, see Drugs to get rid of H. pylori (eradication treatment).

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the government body that decides which treatments should be available on the NHS. NICE says that you should have eradication treatment if you have a stomach ulcer. [10]

It's important to take your drugs the way your doctor asks you to, even if you get some side effects. If you don't take all of the drugs correctly, your H. pylori probably won't go away. And the bacteria ( germs) may become resistant to the antibiotics in your treatment. This could make it hard for your doctor to find a treatment that will get rid of your H. pylori.

How can it help?

If you take eradication treatment to get rid of H. pylori, your ulcer is likely to heal, although it may not heal any better than with acid-reduction drugs alone. But your ulcer is less likely to come back if you have treatment to get rid of H. pylori, than if your ulcer heals without treatment.

In studies, after one to two years, stomach ulcers come back in: [39]

  • 6 in 10 people who don't have any treatment

  • 1 in 10 people who have eradication treatment.

If you've had a bleeding ulcer, this treatment will reduce the chance of further bleeding. One summary of the research found that: [40]

  • Between 4 in 100 and 5 in 100 people with a bleeding stomach ulcer who had eradication treatment had more bleeding

  • Of the people who took only a drug to reduce the amount of acid in their stomach, almost 24 in 100 had more bleeding.

A bleeding ulcer can be dangerous and you may need to be treated in hospital. The bleeding can usually be stopped with drugs or surgery. If your bleeding ulcer isn't treated, you can have serious internal bleeding (a haemorrhage).

Last Updated: November 11, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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