Helicobactor pylori is a bacteria that can infect the stomach and the first part of the small intestines. According to the MayoClinic.com, H. pylori is thought to be present in about half of the people in the world. In many cases, H. pylori cause no signs or symptoms. It can lead to serious illnesses such as ulcers and stomach cancer, however. Physicians often prescribe medication to eradicate the infection as well as control the complications.
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Physicians commonly prescribe antibiotic medications to treat H. pylori infections. Doctors typically prescribe a combination of medications in the hopes that the bacteria will not develop a resistance to one particular antibiotic. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics are amoxicillin, clarithromycin, tetracycline and metronidazole. Patients typically take two antibiotic medications for 14 days. Tetracycline and metronidazole often cause a bad taste in the mouth. Other side effects common with these antibiotics include dizziness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Acid-reducing medications such as proton pump inhibitors and histamine blockers reduce acid helping to alleviate symptoms as well as making antibiotic medications more effective. Proton pump inhibitors include omeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole, rabeprazole and esomeprazole. These medications work by shutting down the pumps in acid producing cells. Common side effects of proton pump inhibitors include headache, diarrhea, constipation, mild fever, white patches and sores inside the mouth and stomach pain. As of 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released new safety warnings for those taking both over-the-counter and prescription proton pump inhibitors to alert users of the increased potential for fractures of the hip, wrist and spine.
H2 blockers work by decreasing the amount of acid produced in the stomach. H2 blockers are available over the counter and with a prescription. Medications in this class include nizatidine, ranitidine and famotidine. Patients often take a one a day dose at bedtime or a twice daily dose once in the morning and once at night. Side effects of H2 blockers are rare but can include diarrhea, difficult urination, dryness of the mouth and skin, headache, loss of hair, ringing in ears, trouble sleeping, breast soreness and swelling in females and decreased sexual ability.