FAQ

Helicobacter pylori: preventing and curing the bacteria that causes ulcers

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection occurs when H. pylori bacteria infect your stomach. This usually occurs during childhood. A common cause of peptic ulcers, H. pylori infection can be present in more than half of people worldwide.

Most people don’t realize they have an H. pylori infection because they never get sick. If you have signs and symptoms of a peptic ulcer, your doctor will likely test you for H. pylori infection. If you have an H. pylori infection, it can be treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms of an H. pylori ulcer

Most people infected with H. pylori will never have any signs or symptoms. It’s not clear exactly why, but some people may be born with greater resistance to the harmful effects of H. pylori.

When signs or symptoms appear in H. pylori infection, they may be:

Pain or burning sensation in the abdomen
Abdominal pain that gets worse when your stomach is empty
Nausea
Loss of appetite
Frequent burping
Bloating
Unintentional weight loss

When to consult a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any lingering signs and symptoms that worry you. Get medical help right away if you experience:

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Severe or persistent abdominal pain
Difficulty swallowing
Bloody or black, tarry stools
Vomit that is bloody or black or looks like coffee grounds

Ulcer causes: how does one get infected with H. pylori bacteria

Exactly how H. pylori infects someone is still unknown. H. pylori bacteria can be passed from person to person through direct contact with saliva, vomit, or feces. H. pylori can also be spread through contaminated food or water.

Risk factors

H. pylori infection is often acquired during childhood. Risk factors for H. pylori infection are related to living conditions in your childhood, such as:

Living in a crowded environment

The risk of H. pylori infection is higher if you live in a house with lots of other people.

Living without a reliable supply of clean water

Having a reliable supply of clean, running water helps reduce the risk of H. pylori infection.

Living in a developing country

People living in developing countries, where crowded and unsanitary living conditions may be more common, are at higher risk of H. pylori infection.

Living with someone with H. pylori infection

If someone you live with has H. pylori infection, you are more likely to have H. pylori infection as well.

Complications due to H. pillory bacteria

Complications associated with H. pylori infection include the following:

ulcers

H. pylori can damage the protective lining of the stomach and small intestine. This can allow stomach acid to create an open sore (ulcer). About 10% of people with H. pylori will develop an ulcer.

Inflammation of the stomach wall

H. pylori infection can irritate the stomach and cause inflammation (gastritis).

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Stomach cancer

H. pylori infection is an important risk factor for certain types of stomach cancer.

Prevention of H.pylori contamination

In areas of the world where H. pylori infection and its complications are common, doctors sometimes test healthy people for H. pylori. Whether there is any benefit to testing for H. pylori infection when one has no signs or symptoms of infection is controversial among doctors.

If you’re concerned about an H. pylori infection or think you’re at high risk for stomach cancer, talk to your doctor. Together you can decide if you can benefit from being tested for H. pylori.

Tests and procedures used to determine if you have an H. pylori infection include

Blood test

Testing a blood sample may reveal the presence of an active or past H. pylori infection in your body. However, breath tests and stool tests are more effective than a blood test in detecting active H. pylori infections.

Breath test

In a breath test, you swallow a pill, a liquid that contains labeled carbon molecules. If you have an H. pylori infection, carbon is released as the solution is broken down in your stomach.

Your body absorbs the carbon and expels it when you exhale. Your doctor uses a special device to detect carbon molecules.

Antacid medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), bismuth subsalicylate, and antibiotics can affect the accuracy of this test.
Your doctor will ask you to stop taking these medications for a week or two before having the test. This test is available for adults and children.

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Stool test

A lab test called the stool antigen test looks for foreign proteins (antigens) associated with an H. pylori infection in your stool. As with the breathalyzer, PPIs and bismuth subsalicylate can affect the results of this test. Your doctor will therefore ask you to stop taking them for two weeks before the test.

H. pylori infections are usually treated with at least two different antibiotics at the same time. This is to prevent the bacteria from developing resistance to a particular antibiotic. Your doctor will also prescribe or recommend an antacid medicine to help your stomach lining heal.

Source

Helicobacter pylori and cancer. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/h-pylori-fact-sheet. Accessed Jan. 9, 2017.

American College of Gastroenterology guideline on the management of Helicobacter pylori infection. American College of Gastroenterology. http://gi.org/guideline/management-of-helicobacter-pylori-infection/. Accessed Jan. 9, 2017.

Crowe SE. Bacteriology and epidemiology of Helicobacter pylori infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 9, 2017.

Crowe SE. Indications and diagnostic tests for Helicobacter pylori infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 9, 2017.

* The information and services available on pressesante.com in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. [HighProtein-Foods.com]

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