What are H. Pylori?
Helicobacter Pylori Infection is caused by a type of bacteria that affects the digestive tract and attacks the stomach lining. Although regarded as harmless, a majority of ulcers found in the stomach & small intestine occur due to H. pylori. An individual suffering from H. pylori will be affected by diseases like peptic ulcers and an advanced stomach inflammatory disease known as Gastritis. These spiral-shaped bacteria are accustomed to living in a harsh and acidic environment of the stomach. The unique spiral shape allows the bacteria to enter the stomach lining, it can decrease the ability of the immune system.
Contaminated food and water, mouth-to-mouth interaction and faeces are some of the ways through which the infection can spread. The bacteria in the Helicobacter Pylori Infection exposes the stomach cells to harsh acids.
Helicobacter Pylori Infection: Symptoms
While there are no symptoms, however, when the infection leads to an ulcer, there could be some serious abdominal pain. This pain is excruciating and may keep coming and going. A number of other symptoms include – excessive burping, bloating, nausea, fever, lack of appetite etc. However, if you experience trouble in swallowing, anemia, and blood in the stool it is recommended to visit the doctor immediately. It is not just unhealthy people that get affected by the H. pylori even those that are conscious about their health. There is no exact reason why and how the H. pylori infect a person.
A lot of the risk factors for H. pylori infection are caused due to adverse living conditions. Some of the living conditions that could lead to Helicobacter Pylori Infection are living in a crowded home. A reliable source of clean water reduces the risk of attracting the H. Pylori. Unsanitary living conditions are also some of the most common reason of H. pylori infection. For those that are living with someone who has H. pylori, the chances of cross infection are higher. The non-Hispanic Black/Mexican American assent are at more risk of contracting Helicobacter Pylori Infection.
Diagnosis of H. Pylori Infection
In order to detect the infection blood, a urea breath test and endoscopic biopsies are some of the tests that can diagnose the Infection. These chronic infections weaken the stomach’s ability to defend itself. It is difficult to completely eradicate the infection from the stomach, it requires a combination of antibiotics and protein pump inhibitor (PPI) in order to tackle the infection. If the infection is not treated and eradicated, then some patients may develop MALT lymphoma – a type of stomach cancer.
Doctors recommend several preventive measures to avoid ulcers such as — reducing the content of alcohol consumption and smoking. Patients with ulcers are also asked to avoid caffeine and are recommended to undergo radiation therapy. Reducing stress is also one of the prevention measures. Washing hands regularly with uncontaminated water is mandatory for patients. Currently, there are no specific vaccinations available for Helicobacter Pylori Infection. After having cured of the infection there are some patients who may experience a re-occurrence of H. pylori. About 50% of the world population is affected by this gram-negative bacterium. Unless treated some patients can experience colonization that can last lifelong.