My new gastroenterologist is a nice guy. However, he is known for keeping his patients waiting. The day I was to get my results, I got a call saying he was in emergency surgery and my appointment would be delayed an hour and a half. Not wanting to wait to find out my results, I said I’d still like to see him that day, if possible. Those 90 minutes stretched into 4.5 hours, but I finally got to see him. I’m glad I waited.
I had remembered being told I had a peptic ulcer during my endoscopy, so I wasn’t surprised when he told me about it. In fact, he nearly stated it with glee: “You have an ULCER!” Well! Good times for me! I had been wondering about the cause as I do take ibuprofen from time to time and NSAIDs are known for causing ulcers in some people. Also, some food allergic individuals develop ulcers in response to the allergen, and as my 6 week food challenge where I was eating everything from my forbidden food list would have given my stomach the opportunity to form an ulcer, I figured this was also a possibility. I wasn’t expecting a Helicobacter pylori infection to be the cause as I’d recently had a blood test given by my allergist, come back negative. But, according to biopsies of the ulcer and stomach tissue, H. pylori it was.
Biopsies of my villi for celiac disease came back negative, though the pathology report did indicate some inflammation of the tissue. That could be the result of H. pylori as well, since it also causes duodenal ulcers. Visible inflammation was seen in my esophagus, which is a sign of acid reflux.
My doctor was pretty tired (I didn’t get into the appointment until just past 9pm) so I pressed him for more information. Turns out I also have eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) as the biopsies of my esophagus contained moderate amounts of eosinophils, which is an allergic reaction to food. And from the lab tests I’d had run the week before, my intestines appear to be hosting a “moderate” amount of protozoan parasites, known as Blastocystis hominis, which appeared in all three samples given. While Mayo Clinic gives this diagnosis short shrift, many other sites, from research to conspiracy theory, indicate some connection between this parasite and conditions such as IBS.
Now you can see why I was glad I waited around. Our current plan is to treat the ulcer first by eradicating the H. pylori. As my insurance doesn’t cover name-brand medications, my doctor was nice enough to give me samples of Pylera, which is a combination antibiotic therapy for H. pylori. Had I paid out-of-pocket, it would have cost me over $600 so I was happy to receive the freebies. He also gave me some Nexium to take along with it, as a proton pump inhibitor is required additionally for the therapy, though Prilosec is more commonly used.
Our current plan is to treat the ulcer, then for me to try and find out what foods I am allergic to (back to the allergist now that I’m on the allergy-provoking diet?) and then, if all else fails, treat the parasite. Unfortunately, from what I’ve read, Blastocystis is hard to eradicate, and once gone, the symptoms may persist. So I’m not optimistic about that one. But I’ve heard that clearing up H. pylori may help out with reactions.
So cross your fingers that I survive the antibiotics. They’re a bit of a tough pill to swallow: 3 pills 4x a day, plus 2 Nexiums for 2 weeks. I don’t seem to be having as bad of side-effects as other report, and am on day 5 at this point.
I’ll let you know!