A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with H Pylori bacteria in my stomach after I went to my doctor complaining of acid reflux. They did a blood test to confirm. I had noticed burning for several weeks before, but finally I had a night of chest pain and went to the E.R. for that because it was so bad. But it was acid reflux, not heart related.
My medicine was two antibiotics taken over 14 days, as well as a PPI (proton pump inhibitor), which decreases stomach acid.
The first week was not too bad. I had trouble sleeping and Lunesta helped with that. But as I got to day 6, things went really bad. I felt very nauseous, weak, anxiety and had blurred vision. This became so bad that I ended up in the E.R. because I could hardly stand without blacking out. In the E.R. I was given reglan to help clear out my stomach, as well as pepcid through an I.V. I felt a lot better after that. They also prescribed the reglan and another antacid coating substance to help my stomach / ulcers heal.
H Pylori often cause gastritis and ulcers, and that’s what happened to me. The burning in my stomach has been mild to extreme, like my whole gut is being dipped in acid.
Now that my treatment is almost up, I thought I would share some learnings and tips for anyone else who is going though this treatment.
– Drink lots of water every day, even if you don’t feel like it. I got dehydrated really bad and it caused extreme weakness (as I am sure the meds did as well). Get a half gallon jug with a spray top and drink it religiously slowly throughout the day.
– Take all the meds on a schedule and do not miss doses. I missed one day of my PPI and I paid dearly for it with horrible amounts of stomach acid ravaging my ulcers.
– Take the PPI on an empty stomach 15-30 minutes before a meal. This pill is meant to go into your stomach before food, and activates when digestion moves into the small intestine. Make sure to get the number of times per 24 hours right, as different antibiotic treatments specify to take it 1, 2 or 3 times in a day.
– Speaking of PPI, if you find your acid is worse at night, take the PPI an hour before bed and then eat a snack 15-30 minutes before bed, like a banana, apple or piece of bread. That will really help things calm down at night as you are laying flat. Acid reflux is worse when you are laying down.
– Don’t take any antacids (tums or liquid) within an hour of taking any medication – no exceptions! Antacids seemed to dilute and reduce the effect of my medication. If I took Lunesta (a sleeping pill) with antacid at night, I only got two hours of sleep. Taking it on a more empty stomach without antacid gives me 4-6 hours which given how I feel is superb. Taking antacids with my PPI limited it as well, and I’ll assume antacids would limit the antibiotics as well.
– You may lose your entire appetite, especially in the second week. Don’t force yourself to eat food or big meals. An apple here or a banana there with some whole grain bread will keep you alive enough until your appetite comes back.
– Be prepared to lose weight. So far I’ve lost 8 pounds (215 to 207) since treatment started 11 days ago. Understand that a lot of that is water and stool loss and try not to get worked up about it. I’ve had to work hard at not weighing myself all the time and getting anxiety from the weight loss.
– For me the antibiotics made me nauseous and ill feeling in general. I finally realized this and started taking them after meals and not before meals and that helped me eat a little more food.
– Gaviscon helped when my acid and burning was at extreme levels, but I learned to minimize use in order to maximize medication effectiveness.
– I started taking tums throughout the day even if I felt OK, because you never know when the acid will strike.
– You may have some nights with little to no sleep, especially in week 2 of treatment. When you’re already feeling ill this can be very taxing on the body and mind. If you are open to taking something like Lunesta, it can really help. Even when going to bed with anxiety and rapid heartbeat I could always eventually fall asleep if I took Lunesta. As you lose more and more sleep it adds up and compounds everything else you are dealing with. Try and take the Lunesta as the last thing in your day, 30-60 minutes after any other medicine or antacid.
– Stick to the BRAT diet (Bananas, rice, apples and toast/bread). In week 2 this seems even more important as your stomach gets pounded by the antibiotics.
– Take a probiotic 5 or 6 hours after each course of antibiotic. This will help reduce the damage done to your digestive system and give you a chance to not feel miserable. I only started taking these on day 9 which was a mistake. Should have done it far sooner, even before treatment started.
– My best schedule for the antibiotics was 5am and 5pm. Find times that work for you and stick with them every day so you get used to the schedule. I realized taking the first dose early helped me get passed the few hours of nausea and side effects earlier in the day, giving me a chance to have a better morning and afternoon.
– Evenings can become your worst time, especially in the second week. Keep drinking water and eating the BRAT diet and take it easy. Hopefully you have a support system around you, that helps a lot.
– You may have odd spasms, sensations, blurred vision and a whole host of weird feelings in general. I also had some mild hallucinations as well. Drinking water and staying hydrated seems to help lessen these oddities.
– Oh yes, speaking of weird, your stool is going to be different for a while. It will look like worms, parasites, white, yellow, green and everything in between. I even had some in the shape of my initials which was gnarly. The mucus and strange poo did not concern my doctor, so I learned to deal with it. The really funny looking poo happened between days 6 and 9 and eventually went away. There was one time I had diarrhea as well on day 7 or 8 I believe.
– Try and keep your brain occupied during the day. Watch T.V., walk around or talk to someone. It really helps. Take naps if you can. I never was able to because of Insomnia.
– If you ever feel like death as I did when I went to the E.R., don’t be afraid to go to the E.R. If you are having stabbing abdominal pains, a fever or vomiting I wouldn’t wait to see your doctor. Just go to the E.R. When I went to the E.R., they checked for a perforated ulcer (hole in stomach) which thankfully I didn’t have, but if I had had one and hadn’t gone to the E.R., that would have been life threatening.
– Hopefully you have decent health insurance. As an indie software developer, I pay about 900 USD a month just for the premium, but it’s turning out to be good that I had it with my E.R. visits, spinal surgery and birth of a daughter all this year.
– I am OCD about researching things online. From parasites to stomach cancer, I thought I had it all. Statistically, especially in developed countries, these ailments are rare. Having said that, if you have black or tarry / bloody stool or horrific diarrhea, go get to the E.R.
– There may be times during your treatment when every minute seems like an eternity and you just want to go crazy. Hang in there and work on your mental focus and determination and you’ll hopefully come out of the experience a stronger and more stable person. Getting over this is a marathon, not a sprint.
– Take this time of suffering to re-examine your life and priorities and make yourself and your life all the better.
My treatment is almost up, and I plan on amending this article with my results. I’m also having spinal fusion surgery in a week and will likely write about that as well.
Good luck with your H Pylori treatment!
I had my spinal fusion surgery. I’ve had numerous tests, including stool sample and the bacteria have been exterminated. Recovering from my spine surgery and this bacteria has been a challenge as I am also battling extreme insomnia. Hopefully once my body starts healing up the insomnia will start going away.