H Pylori Test of You? Guide for Gastritis Diagnosis

We all get the odd test anxiety, especially if it relates to our health. 

The continues worry of what’s causing your agonizing abdominal pain, bloating, and upset stomach.

I know, digestive problems are nothing but unpleasant and have an impact on your personal and work life. 

Often, trying to hold that painful gas at a dinner date, feeling bloated and uncomfortable after a meal, trying to figure out what to wear to hide that bulging belly and having the most irritating abdominal pain on the way to work.

Digestive health is not the sexiest topic to talk about with your partner or the doctor, and so it is often put on the backburner and avoided until we can’t bear the pain anymore.

Well, don’t push your body to the absolute limits and get the answers before the damage is too severe and possibly irreversible. 

The longer you wait for, the more tests you may require, resulting in a more intensive treatment to follow.

Fight the anxiety and procrastination and visit a doctor that will help you to get to the root cause of your symptoms.

In this article, I have described five practical medical tests that are often used by practitioners to diagnose gastritis. 

What causes gastritis?

Gastritis is a common inflammation of the stomach lining. This lining consists of a mucous-lined barrier that, when injured or weakened, creates access for your acidic digestive juices to inflame your stomach lining.  

There are several potential triggers of gastritis. In this article, I will discuss the top four triggers:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)

First is the over-consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). For example, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc. As mentioned at Medscape;

“More than 70 million prescriptions for NSAIDs are written each year in the United States. With over-the-counter use included, more than 30 billion doses of NSAIDs are consumed annually in the United States alone.”

  • Harmful substances

Secondly, the culprit of the inflammation can be due to harmful substances, for example, alcohol abuse, acids, and others. 

  • Stress

Thirdly, stress is creating evident havoc on the mind and body. Stress is long known for its strong influence on diseases and health.

Furthermore, it has been evident that chronic psychological stress is directly associated with the body’s ability to regulate inflammatory responses against inflammation.

Consequently, weak immunity and long-term stress shake hands halfway and create a perfect deal to promote the development and progression of many diseases.

For example, when looking at the development of gastritis, the individual may increase its production of stomach acids due to excessive stress.

  • Helicobacter pylori bacteria

Lastly, Helicobacter (H) pylori, a well-known microorganism that, if left untreated, can develop into gastric ulcers or gastric cancer. The healing process requires a strict gastritis diet along with medication.

Infection by H.pylori is the most common cause of gastritis development.

Tests and diagnosis

The following tests can be used to diagnose gastritis:

  1. Physical examination
  2. Medical history and current symptoms
  3. Testing for H.pylori (blood, breath or stool testing)
  4. Endoscopy
  5. X-ray of the oesophagus

testing for gastritis

Picture: Testing for gastritis.

Physical examination test for gastritis

A doctor may observe the appearance of the patient. A pale skin, fatigue, and distressed look may be visible, especially when abdominal pain occurs. Other symptoms include tachycardia, conjunctival pallor, Halitosis (chronic gastritis), chest tenderness (infection by H.pylori).

Medical history and current symptoms

A detailed medical history and symptom checker should be completed to find any links between previous medication, illnesses fought, and the symptoms a patient is presenting. 

A 7- day food record can also be beneficial, especially for a nutritionist to detect any dietary relations.

Testing for H.pylori (blood, breath or stool testing)

Four tests are allowing to test for H.pylori infection. These include:

Blood test

Analysis of a blood sample may reveal evidence of current or previous H.pylori infection. However, for active infection by H.pylori, breath and stool tests are more accurate and so are more commonly used.

Urea breath test

After swallowing a pill, liquid, or pudding containing tagged carbon molecules, you take a breath test that detects if you have H.pylori infection. If bacteria are present, the solution will break down and release tagged carbons suggesting an H.pylori infection in the stomach.

Stool test

There are two types of stool tests; a stool antigen test and a stool culture test. 

The stool antigen test looks for antigens (substances that trigger an immune response) to H.pylori in your stool, whereas a culture test looks for H.pylori bacteria in your stool. 

You can find a more detailed guide to each test at MedlinePlus.

Endoscopy test for gastritis

We all fear of a tube going down our throat, am I right? 

Well, please don’t. Endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure used to examine a person’s digestive tract. A flexible tube with a small light and a camera is inserted into your mouth and throat. 

You will be given medicine to help you relax and prevent pain. Then a small sample of tissue, known as the biopsy is taken for examination and observation.  

Due to the relaxants, you may feel a little tired, so better bring someone with you to drive you home. 

This test doesn’t require any special preparation, except that you may have to fast (no food or water consumption) for at least 12 hours before your procedure. 

X-ray of the esophagus test for gastritis

Also known as the upper gastrointestinal tract (GI) radiography is a particular x-ray exam of the esophagus, stomach, and your first part fo the small intestine is known as the duodenum.

A radiologist will advise you to fast the night before your procedure. Before the x-ray, you will drink the liquid barium, similar to a light-colored milkshake. The radiologist will watch the barium pass through the patients’ digestive tract on a fluoroscope.

The exam is often quick and short and completed within 20 minutes. 

Stay calm before testing

Te doctor visits are, in general, frustrating for many of us, especially when we know we have a combination of tests ahead of us that can be, to some extent, painful and unpleasant. 

However, excess stress and worries may worsen your symptoms and conditions. 

Tests give us answers, and even though it can be stressful, getting an accurate diagnosis will improve your chances of healing and opting for the right treatment.