Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that can enter your body to live in your digestive tract and cause an infection in your stomach. After many years this bacterium can cause peptic ulcers in the lining of your stomach and also on the upper part of your small intestine. Peptic ulcers in some people can lead to stomach cancer. The majority of people infected with H. Pylori have no symptoms and never develop problems as a result of the infection. When H. Pylori bacteria attack your stomach, the bacteria produce an enzyme called urease which neutralizes your stomach acid to be less acidic this weakens your stomach lining. After your stomach lining is weakened you have a greater risk of being hurt by strong digestive fluids hence your body develops ulcers in your stomach or your duodenum.
What causes H. pylori infections
H. pylori mostly occurs in children and can be found all over the world, but especially in undeveloped and developing countries, where rates of infection are as high as 50% of the total population. This bacterium is passed from person to person through the mouth by kissing, or when you eat food or drink water that has been contaminated with vomit or stool. You may be at risk of being infected if you leave with a person who is infected with H. pylori. This bacterium is mostly transmitted in areas with poor sanitation and overcrowded areas.
Symptoms of H. pylori
Most people have resistance to the harmful effects of H. pylori hence their bodies never show any signs and symptoms of this infection. The signs and symptoms of H. pylori are related to the symptoms of peptic ulcers or gastritis
1.Burning pain in the upper belly
3.Feeling satiated after eating a small amount of food
4.Heartburn, upset stomach
7.Anemia, which can result from blood loss due to peptic ulcers
9.Having reddish-colored stools, indicating the presence of blood.
10.Vomiting, especially vomiting blood.
11.Unexplained weight loss weight occurring over a period of several weeks to several months.
12.Persistent pain occurs during the night and is severe.
The risk factor for H. pylori
Your living conditions and environment influence the risk of infection of H. pylori infection. Most children are at more risk of getting this infection because they may not always practice good hygiene. You may be at risk if you
1. Lack of a reliable supply of clean water.
2. Live in crowded conditions especially slums or overcrowded houses.
3. Live with a person who has been infected with H. pylori infection.
How H. pylori are diagnosed
It’s important to get a test for H. pylori for you to know the course of your symptoms because many things can damage your stomach lining.H. pylori can be tested by
Before you go for the test you need to stop taking any kind of antibiotics. During the test, you swallow a special liquid that contains urea. You will make an exhaled breath into a bag that tests the presence of the bacterium. If the H. pylori bacterium is present the bacteria will convert the urea into carbon dioxide
This helps detect traces of the H. pylori bacterium in the feces. This test is important because it can confirm if the infection is cured after treatment and proper medication.
This test is to detect if your body has H.pylori antibodies. A blood test can tell how long you have been infected by the disease. A blood test cannot be used to confirm if the infection has been cured because the test can show positive signs for years even after the infection is cured.
The doctor will use an endoscope to look down your throat into your stomach and your small intestines to examine ulcers and to collect a tissue sample called a biopsy from the stomach lining to examine the presence of the H. pylori bacterium.
The doctor will give you a liquid that contains barium to drink, and an x-ray is taken to examine the stomach lining.
Computer tomography scan
This is an x-ray scan that scans inside the stomach lining by producing a clear detailed pictures.
How are H. pylori treated?
There is no single medicine that can treat H. pylori infection. The majority of treatment regimens include taking multiple drugs for 14 days.
The majority of treatment regimens contain a medicine known as a proton pump inhibitor. This drug reduces the production of acid in the stomach, allowing the infection-damaged tissues to recover.
Two antibiotics are also commonly used, which minimizes the likelihood of treatment failure and antibiotic resistance.
Side effects of H. pylori therapy
Side effects are typically minor, and less than 10% of individuals discontinue therapy due to them. Those who do encounter adverse effects may be able to change the dose or timing of their medicine. Some of the most prevalent adverse effects include;
- The use of metronidazole (Flagyl) or clarithromycin (Biaxin) drugs might give you a metallic taste in your mouth and make you feel sick.
- Bismuth, which is present in some medicine, darkens the feces and may induce constipation.
- Many of the medicine produce diarrhea and cramping in the stomach.
- Patients should avoid alcohol, beer, or wine while using metronidazole; the combination can produce skin flushing, headache, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and a high heart rate.
How to prevent H. pylori
- Practice good hygiene and hand washing, especially with food preparation.
- All patients with chronic gastrointestinal symptoms that may be associated with H. pylori infection should be tested and treated to prevent exposure to family members.
- Patients should take all the prescriptions indicated for the entire course, which is usually 10 to 14 days, to maximize the potential for a cure. This is to reduce the resistance to antibiotics.
- H. pylori patients should have a test to ensure that the infection has been eradicated.
- Maintain proper nutrition to prevent iron deficiency anemia.
- Increase cruciferous vegetable intake
- Support policies to improve living conditions in developing countries
Complications of H. pylori
H. Pylori and Gastritis
When H. pylori bacteria cause inflammation and irritation in your stomach. Gastritis is caused due to the H. pylori infection, but can also be caused by drinking too much alcohol, and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin. Gastritis doesn’t always cause symptoms in most people.
Symptoms of gastritis
1.Burning pain in your upper abdomen
2.Indigestion may occur
5.Feeling full after eating a small portion
H. Pylori and Ulcers
H. pylori infection injures the mucous coating that protects the lining of your stomach and duodenum. Once this coating is damaged, stomach acid can creep through to the sensitive lining. The acid and the bacteria irritate the lining of your stomach and small intestine, causing an ulcer to form. Other causes of ulcers include the use of nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs and rare tumors in the stomach. According to research, 90 percent of duodenal ulcers and 80 percent of stomach ulcers are caused by H. pylori.
Symptoms of ulcer
1.Abdominal pain that’s worse when your stomach is empty
7.Unexplained weight loss
8.Vomiting of blood
H. Pylori and Stomach Cancer
In recent years, scientists have found H. pylori is linked to an increased risk of stomach cancers. Doctors have accepted the idea that H. pylori infection is an important risk factor for certain types of stomach cancers and cancer known as gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue H. pylori is also linked to the risk of esophageal cancer. Stomach cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. You can also be at risk of Stomach cancer if you have chronic gastritis, Smoking, if you have a family history of stomach cancer, if you eat a lot of salt and smoked foods, and if you have pernicious anemia.
H. pylori infection is a disease that has been part of the human population since ancient times and can lead to peptic ulcer and gastritis if not well treated. It’s important to undergo testing for H. pylori once you discover you have symptoms of an ulcer, this is to discover the bacteria that causes H. pylori, to diagnose.