Over 2,000 years ago Hippocrates, the father of medicine said: “All disease begins in the gut”. Healthy digestion and a healthy microbiome are fundamental to health. The digestive tract is a long tube that goes from the mouth to the anus. It is composed of several organs and accessory organs that work together to intake, break down and absorb food as well as excrete waste material. Each organ of the digestive tract can be affected by dysfunction from gastroesophageal reflux to H. Pylori infections, leaky gut, malabsorption syndrome, maldigestion, food allergies, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, etc. It is important to know that digestive issues are not confined to the affected organ, but that they have repercussions for the entire system. Moreover, digestive dysfunction causes maladies that are not exclusively relegated to the organs of digestion. Research shows that several conditions are caused by or correlated with unhealthy microbiome and digestive dysfunction: obesity, type-2 diabetes (Fan & Pedersen, 2021), connective tissue disease (CTD) (Bizzaro et al., 2003), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Grave’s disease (Shor et al., 2012), just to name a few.
What Laboratory Tests Are Available Today?
There are several laboratory tests available to test gastrointestinal function. Stomach acid can be measured with a Heidelberg capsule (Lord & Bralley, 2012). Pepsin can be tested via a saliva test (Strugala et al., 2015). Fecal and plasma tests can be used to measure pancreatic output of protease and lipase. A fecal fat test can reveal impaired liver or gallbladder function. Stool cultures, DNA stool test, comprehensive stool digestive analysis (CSDA), fecal butyrate testing are tools used to assess colon function (Lord & Bralley, 2012). Colonoscopy, barium enema, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed cosmography scan (CT scan), defecography, ultrasounds and other imaging tests are also available to assess colon health (Digestive Diagnostic Procedures). A hydrogen-methane breath test is used to diagnose small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Several tests are available to test for food allergies and intolerances: increased levels of IgA can be measured through feces, urine and serum analysis and can reveal the presence of gut inflammation, celiac disease, mucosal infection, food allergies, and other inflammatory conditions (Breedveld & van Egmond, 2019). Serum IgE and IgG levels can be checked to test for food allergies, infections and inflammatory diseases (Mayo Clinic Labs). According to the Genova Diagnostics website, high levels of IgG antibodies can also indicate the presence of leaky gut syndrome.
What Is The Helicobacter Test?
The test I chose for this essay is the Helicobacter Pylori Stool Antigen EIA. The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) (Talley et al., 2005) and the American College of Gastroenterologists (ACG) (Chey et al., 2007) consider the H. Pylori stool antigen to be superior to the serum testing.
H. Pylori is a bacterium that inhabits the stomach, usually without causing any disease. According to Iisashi et al. (2015) H. Pylori can suppress inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and it is linked to a reduced incidence of asthma. A study from Talebi Bezmin Abadi (2014) even suggested that an eradication of H. Pylori contributes to an increase of GERD. It is still unknown why, in certain people, H. Pylori colonies wreaks havoc in the stomach, causing stomach ulcers, gastric inflammation, stomach cancer and gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid-tissue lymphoma (Yang it al., 2014). Symptoms associated with H. Pylori infections are burping, bloating, nausea, gastritis presenting with pain and a burning sensation, loss of appetite and weight loss (Mayo clinic, 2017). A patient that presents with these symptoms should be tested for H. Pylori infection. The stool antigen EIA test looks for the present of antigens that reveal the presence of H. Pylori. Certain medications like antibiotics and acid blockers can interfere with the test results; therefore, patients are asked to discontinue the use to these medications for one to two weeks prior to testing.
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