Helicobacter Pylori IgG Test:
Helicobacter pylori bacteria is the most common cause of stomach and duodenal ulcers, chronic gastritis, and gastric malignancies. Blood tests are carried out to measure the antibodies produced against H. pylori bacteria. The antibody test checks for the presence of IgG and IgA antibodies against the bacteria.
Factors involved to understand the normal range of Helicobacter pylori IgG levels:
Normal result of the test is the absence of antibodies to H. pylori in the blood sample.
Negative test result means there are no antibodies against the H. pylori bacteria in the blood. This could mean there is no infection or the level of IgG antibody is at low level that cannot be detected by the test. False negative results can be obtained in cases where the blood test is done early in an H. pylori infection as the antibody levels may be too low to measure.
A positive test indicates the presence of IgG antibody against H. pylori bacteria. However, it can also indicate a past infection. A positive test can only determine the presence of IgG antibody to H. pylori. It, however, does not confirm the presence of a gastrointestinal disease. Additional testing may be required to confirm the diagnosis.
A positive Helicobacter pylori test can also indicate a variety of digestive disorders. These include gastritis, peptic ulcers, and certain types of stomach cancer.
Most patients with H. pylori infection show no signs or symptoms. When signs and symptoms manifest, they may include:
In severe cases, blackened or bloody stools, persistent stomach pain, peptic ulcers, difficulty swallowing, and bloody or black vomit may be seen. Immediate medical help is required in such cases.
H. pylori infection is generally caused by contaminated food or water. Living in a crowded place, having no reliable supply of clean water, crowded and unsanitary living conditions, or coming in contact with a person having H. pylori infection, can increase the risk of getting infected with H. pylori.
H. pylori infection is most common in countries where there is no access to clean and safe water and food, and sanitary living conditions. H. pylori infection cannot be prevented but certain precautions are recommended to minimize the risk of infections. These include washing hands after using the restroom, washing hands before meals, drinking clean and safe water, eating food that has been prepared in safe conditions, making living conditions sanitary, etc.
If a patient has ulcers, he/she is advised to quit smoking, drinking alcohol, or consuming spicy food as it can worsen the ulcer and prevent it from healing completely. Avoiding excess use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is also recommended to prevent the development of peptic ulcers. Some nutritionists suggest that consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in sugar, can help stop or reduce the progression of infection.
Helicobacter pylori IgG test is a simple blood test with no major risks associated with it. In some cases, side effects such as bleeding or infection at the site of puncture, hematoma, swelling or soreness at the site, or fainting may be seen. They do not possess any risk to the individual and generally resolve on their own.
Blood test is only reliable if a patient has never been treated for H. pylori infection. This test checks for the antibodies produced against the bacteria. However, it can indicate a current or a past infection. Hence, several other diagnostic tests are ordered along with this test to confirm the diagnosis. Urea breath test is done to detect H. pylori infection and can also be used to check if the infection has been treated completely.
Stool test is done to detect H. pylori in stool and is also used to diagnose the infection and confirm its complete treatment. Endoscopy is also performed to check the inside of the stomach for ulcers, bleeding, gastritis, or to obtain a biopsy sample. Biopsy is ordered when there are stomach ulcers. CT scan and MRI is also advised to rule out diagnosis. Physical examination to check for bloating, tenderness, or pain is also done to help confirm the diagnosis. Repeat testing is ordered 4 weeks after the treatment begins to monitor the progress.
There is no special preparation required for the test. Results of the test are often available within 24 hours. The infections are generally treated through a combination of antibiotics and an acid suppressor drug to lower stomach acid. H. pylori is treatable through medications and early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent damage to the stomach and its subsequent complications such as ulcers, gastritis, and stomach cancer.
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