Helicobacter Pylori

Helicobacter Pylori is a bacterium. I first heard about it about a year ago when my brother sent me an email to suggest I get checked for it. Why? Apparently it’s a common problem in Ethiopia and many Ethiopians in the US have been diagnosed with it. It’s a scary disease because you may not know you have it. I’ve had diarrhea every now and then for no apparent reason. So I decided to get checked when my brother told me about it. I took months to go to the doctor. Partly because I’m lazy, partly because I didn’t think my stomach problem was anything serious, and partly because I was having a bad cold.I wrote the name on a piece of paper and went to the doctor. I asked him if I could be tested for Helicobacter Pylori. He asked if I was having stomach problems at that moment. I said no. Then he said something that put me on. Before this discussion I was talking to him about the cold and his response had annoyed me. So I left it there.

That was back in December. These days I’ve been having a more than usual diarrhea. I read about Helicobacter Pylori every now and then when I felt sick. I somehow convinced myself that I had it. So I saw a doctor again. This time I met a reasonable guy. I had researched on the matter so much that the explanation of my symptoms and what I thought I had led the doctor to ask “By the way what’s your profession, do you work in this area?”. He agreed with me and ordered a blood test. I couldn’t help feeling happy today when I was told I have it. My problem is now known.

Many people get it during their childhood. It can be transmitted through saliva as well. Some of the unfortunate Ethiopians who say “cheguara alebign” probably have this. Even the ones like me who say “tilant yebelahut altesmamagnim” may have it too. So if you are living with stomach problems, whether it happens frequently or not, go see your doctor.

The reaction of doctors is different from place to place (and their own personality and experience of course). If you go to a private clinic in Ethiopia, they’ll probably be happy for you to take blood and urine test. If you’re unlucky you may even get x-rayed. Finally you get pills that make you even more sick. Am I being too negative here? To be fair, our family used to frequent one general practitioner who was really good. Doctors like him are hard to find though. When it comes to charging patients unnecessarily the US maybe even worse. In the UK people get a free health service from the NHS (National Health Service). The problem here is people visit doctors for the smallest reasons. So sometimes doctors dismiss patients’ complaints too quickly.

My doctor prescribed some medicine until my blood test was ready. I don’t see how that could have helped. He saw me on Thursday and my blood test was on the following Tuesday. He told me to take the pills right away. Now the pills could have changed something before they took my blood. For instance, whatever “bad” things I had in my blood could have been temporarily lessened by the effect of the pills, only to come back later when I finish taking the pills. He suggested three a day and I got thousands of them. I probably took five or something. I’m glad I did so because I have now been told to stop taking those and to take three others (Clarithromycin, Amoxylin and Omeprazole). It’s a two weeks treatment. I’ll have these for breakfast and dessert for dinner.

I was happy to read the leaflets. I usually see “Side-effects may include nausea, drowsiness, vomit, …”. I don’t mind the list but “may include” shouldn’t be there. Following such a statement, throwing yourself out the window, taking a knife and stabbing random people on the street and simply dropping dead are all valid potential side-effects. What they really want to say is “known side-effects” and why they are putting it there is so people take action in case of undesired effects. But things have improved! Here is what my leaflet says,

Now this doesn’t sound scary and it’s understandable. The letters are big enough to read too!


blood group antigens

an ulcer in the making


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tibebe
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 12:47:18

    hey man, what is your blood type? i am guessing O.


    • getere
      Jun 02, 2010 @ 15:59:49

      my mom is probably O and my dad B. work out the math…i mean the bio (?)


      • tibebe
        Jun 03, 2010 @ 15:27:44

        the biology says that you have got a 50 % chance of being O. this is consistent with the observation that gastric ulcers are much more common in people who have type O blood. H pylori can bind with the carbohydrates that determine type O. i have added a couple of pictures (from lehininger) to your post; i hope you don’t mind 🙂


        • getere
          Jun 03, 2010 @ 18:30:41

          i don’t mind as long as they stay outside my stomach 🙂

          so you’re a fan of them too? what do you like most about them?


  2. getere
    Apr 24, 2010 @ 16:20:09

    Colorful indeed. Who said “yetemetatene” was for food only?


  3. tibebe
    Apr 24, 2010 @ 15:26:36

    who you saying welcome to?

    however amazing H pylori may be, i don’t think it is in order to say welcome to it.

    wait, i thought tilish wrote this!?

    yummy? i thought he was expressing how much he liked the tablets!

    who the hell is yummy?


  4. bettiye
    Apr 24, 2010 @ 14:48:39

    First welcome yummy.. hmmmm I havenot had a good dinner and didnot eat breakfast… I am at work and “yummy ” reminds me of .. well.. food.. and now my mind is actually stuck on SUSHI…

    So you have persona non grata, no actually in this case “bacteria non grata” in your stomach huh? I have always been facinated by H.Pylori.

    Being a sort of microbio freak.. I have to say something to make you appreciate this little microscopic critter.

    Ask yourself this? Most bacterias cannot handle the harsh environment of our stomach. The PH of our stomach runs between 0-4. SO how does H. pylori do it?

    Here is how…Nature has provided it with a couple of things. First is the “flagella” and the bacteria’s helical shape that helps it burrow into the mucous layer which normally is impermeable to protect the epithelial cell underneath it.

    the second one stands out for me and it is the fact that nature provided the bacteria with ” UREASE,” an enzyme that helps it break the urea in the human stomach (from saliva and gastric juices) to bicarbonate and ammonia which in turn cover the bacteria’s surrounding and neutralize the acidity around it….

    and this my friend is what I call NEAT STUFF….

    Welocme again…


    • getere
      Apr 24, 2010 @ 16:17:33

      Well done little pyloris! You pierced my stomach and burrowed inside. You multiplied inside me and never got tired to give me sweet stomach aches. Even when my body was hostile against you, you have forgiven me and managed to survive the harsh environment with your cute little ureases. I feel a spear has gone through my heart seeing you go. But I’m getting addicted to your care and I should put a stop to it.


      • andthree
        Apr 24, 2010 @ 17:51:20


      • bettiye
        Apr 24, 2010 @ 17:56:02

        the omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor.. basically to minimize your gastric acid production. SO that time can be bought untill the your inflammed cells get better. As for the Clarithromycin and Amoxylin, they are antibiotics and you should finish all the prescribed regimen. You see the problem or ( what the microbs would love you do) is stop the meds. This may end up helping the bacteria axquire resistance to the antibiotics. SO finish them, it is an order. But what I donot understand is, why they gave you an empirical medication even before taking a sample for culture.


      • tibebe
        Apr 25, 2010 @ 12:29:33

        hey, get a room!


    • getere
      Apr 25, 2010 @ 14:44:27

      it’s good to get an explanation of what all these pills do!


  5. tibebe
    Apr 23, 2010 @ 11:06:53

    Those tablets are so colorful that I bet you started feeling better even before you took them. I don’t buy this Helicobacter pylori story, at least for your case. I think it all has got to do with your mental state 🙂 You must have been in a diarrhea state of mind.


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