This test measures the levels of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) antibodies in your blood.
H. pylori are bacteria that can invade your gut. H. pylori infection is one of the major causes of peptic ulcer disease. This happens when inflammation caused by the bacteria affects the mucus coating of your stomach or duodenum, the first section of your small intestine. This leads to sores on the lining and is called peptic ulcer disease.
This test can help your healthcare provider find out whether your peptic ulcers are caused by H. pylori. If antibodies are present, it may mean that they are there to fight H. pylori bacteria. H. pylori bacteria are a leading cause of peptic ulcers, but these ulcers may also develop from other causes, such as from taking too many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
You may need this test if your healthcare provider suspects that you have peptic ulcer disease. Signs and symptoms include:
Burning sensation in your belly
Tenderness in your belly
Gnawing pain in your belly
Your healthcare provider may also order other tests to look for the actual presence of the H. pylori bacteria. These tests might include a stool sample test or an endoscopy, in which a thin tube with a camera on the end is passed down your throat and into your upper gastrointestinal tract. Using special instruments, your healthcare provider can then remove a small piece of tissue to look for H. pylori.
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
Normal results are negative, meaning that no H. pylori antibodies were found and that you don't have an infection with these bacteria.
A positive result means that H. pylori antibodies were found. But it does not necessarily mean that you have an active H. pylori infection. H. pylori antibodies may linger in your body long after the bacteria have been removed by your immune system.
The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand.
Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore.
Past infection with H. pylori can affect your results, giving you a false-positive.
You don't need to prepare for this test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illegal drugs you may use.