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Ulcers

Ulcers - Treatment & Services

H. pylori peptic ulcer treatment overview
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H. pylori peptic ulcer treatment overview

H. pylori peptic ulcers are treated with drugs that kill the bacteria, reduce stomach acid, and protect the stomach lining. Antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria. Two types of acid-suppressing drugs might be used: H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors.

Drugs used to treat H. pylori peptic ulcers:

  • Antibiotics: metronidazole, tetracycline, clarithromycin, amoxicillin
  • H2 blockers: cimetidine, ranitidine, famotidine, nizatidine
  • Proton pump inhibitors: omeprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, esomeprazole, pantoprozole
  • Stomach-lining protector: bismuth subsalicylate

H2 blockers work by blocking histamine, which stimulates acid secretion. They help reduce ulcer pain after a few weeks. Proton pump inhibitors suppress acid production by halting the mechanism that pumps the acid into the stomach. H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors have been prescribed alone for years as treatments for ulcers. But used alone, these drugs do not eradicate H. pylori and therefore do not cure H. pylori-related ulcers. Bismuth subsalicylate, a component of Pepto-Bismol®, is used to protect the stomach lining from acid. It also kills H. pylori.

Treatment usually involves a combination of antibiotics, acid suppressors, and stomach protectors. Antibiotic regimens recommended for patients may differ across regions of the world because different areas have begun to show resistance to particular antibiotics.

The use of only one medication to treat H. pylori is not recommended. At this time, the most proven effective treatment is a two-week course of treatment called triple therapy. It involves taking two antibiotics to kill the bacteria and either an acid suppressor or stomach-lining shield. Two-week triple therapy reduces ulcer symptoms, kills the bacteria, and prevents ulcer recurrence in more than 90 percent of patients.

Unfortunately, patients may find triple therapy complicated because it involves taking as many as 20 pills a day. Also, the antibiotics used in triple therapy may cause mild side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark stools, metallic taste in the mouth, dizziness, headache, and yeast infections in women - most side effects can be treated with medication withdrawal. Nevertheless, recent studies show that two weeks of triple therapy is ideal.

Early results of studies in other countries suggest that one week of triple therapy may be as effective as the two-week therapy, with fewer side effects.

Another option is two weeks of dual therapy. Dual therapy involves two drugs: an antibiotic and an acid suppressor. It is not as effective as triple therapy.

Two weeks of quadruple therapy, which uses two antibiotics, an acid suppressor, and a stomach-lining shield, looks promising in research studies. It is also called bismuth triple therapy.

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To schedule an appointment with a Temple Digestive Disease Center Physician, click here or call 1-800-TEMPLE-MED [1-800-836-7536].

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Sources:

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), National Institutes of Health (NIH) - NIH Publication No. 07–4225, October 2004

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