What Is H. Pylori Infection and Why You Should Worry About It?
H. pylori infection occurs in the body when a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infects your stomach. This usually happens during childhood. A common cause of peptic ulcers is H. pylori infection and it may be present in more than half the people in the world.
Most people do not realize they have H. pylori infection because they never experience any symptoms. If you ever develop signs and symptoms of a peptic ulcer, your doctor will probably suggest you test for H. pylori infection and if you have this infection, it can be treated with medicines such as antibiotics.
Symptoms Of H. Pylori Infection:
Most people with H. pylori infection will never experience any signs or symptoms. It is not clear why this happens but some people may be more resistant to the harmful effects of H. pylori bacteria.
When signs or symptoms start to show up with H. pylori infection, they may include the following:
Burning pain in your abdomen
Abdominal pain that becomes worse when your stomach is empty
Nausea and vomiting
Loss of appetite
Bloating and gas
Causes Of H. Pylori Infection:
It is still not clear exactly how H. pylori infection spreads. The bacteria have coexisted with humans for many centuries. H. pylori infections are thought to spread from one person’s mouth to another. They may also be transferred from feces to the mouth. This can happen when a person does not wash his hands thoroughly after going to the washroom. H. pylori can also spread through contact with contaminated food and water. Therefore, it is also considered a waterborne disease.
The bacteria are believed to cause stomach issues when they penetrate the mucous lining of the stomach and generate substances that neutralize stomach acid HCL. Therefore, the stomach cells become more vulnerable to the harsh acids. Stomach acid and H. pylori together irritate the mucus lining and may cause ulcers in your stomach or small intestine.
If you do not have symptoms of a peptic ulcer then your doctor probably would not ask you for a screening test of H. pylori infection. But if you have symptoms of an ulcer now or in the past, it is good to get tested. OTC painkillers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also damage your stomach lining, so it is very important to find out what is the cause of your symptoms to get the right treatment.
Physical exam: Your doctor will ask you about your medical history, your symptoms, and any other medicines you take. Then he will give you a physical exam, including pressing on your belly to check for swelling, tenderness, or any pain. You may also have to do tests of your blood and stool, which can help find an infection.
Urea breath test: You’ll drink a special liquid that has a chemical called urea. Then you’ll breathe into a bag that your doctor will forward to a lab for processing. If you have H. pylori Infection, the bacteria will change the area in your body into carbon dioxide and lab tests will show that your breath has higher levels of carbon dioxide gas than normal.
To look more closely at your ulcers, your doctor may perform:
Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy: In the hospital, a doctor will use a tube with a small camera called an endoscope. It is used to look down your esophagus into your stomach and the upper part of your small intestine. The procedure may also include a step to collect a sample that will be examined under a microscope for the presence of the bacteria. You may be anesthetized or awake during the procedure, but you will get medicine to make you more comfortable.
Upper GI tests: for this screening test, you’ll have to drink a liquid that has a substance called barium and your doctor will give you an X-ray. The fluid will coat your throat and stomach to make them stand out clearly on the image.
Computed tomography (CT) scan: It is a new powerful X-ray technique that is used to take a detailed picture of the inside of a certain area of the body.
If you have H. pylori infection with severe symptoms then your doctor may also test you for stomach cancer. This includes:
Blood tests: to check for signs of anemia, when your body does not have enough red blood cells. It could occur if you have a tumor that keeps bleeding. A fecal occult blood test is done to check your stool for blood that is not visible to the naked eye.
Biopsy: when a doctor takes a small piece of tissue from your stomach during endoscopy to look for signs of cancer.
MRI: Tests that make detailed pictures of the insides of your body using strong magnetic fields, this process is known as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Why you should treat it?
Although it is not known exactly how H. pylori enter the body, scientists believe that the spiral-shaped bacteria probably get into your body through the mouth. Then, they burrow into the mucus lining of your stomach.
You could be a victim of H. pylori infection in several ways. The bug can be found in contaminated water or food. If a household member has H. pylori infection, there is more chance that others in the household also are infected. It has also been found in some domesticated animals and pets. H. pylori infection is much more common in third world countries where there is poor sanitation, poverty, and overcrowding.
Ulcers and Cancer:
H. pylori infection can inflame the lining of your stomach. That is the reason that you may feel stomach ache or get nauseous. If it is not treated in time, it can either cause ulcers, which are painful, open sores in your stomach lining that bleed, or studies reveal that people who are infected with H. pylori are 8 times more likely to get a certain kind of stomach or gastric cancer.
H. pylori infections are normally treated with at least two different antibiotics given in combination, to help prevent bacteria from developing a resistance to one particular antibiotic. Your doctor will prescribe you an acid-suppressing medicine, to help your stomach lining to heal.
Drugs that can suppress acid include:
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): These drugs stop acid secretion in the stomach. Some examples of PPIs are omeprazole (Prilosec), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and pantoprazole (Protonix).
Histamine (H-2) blockers: These drugs block a substance called histamine, which triggers acid production. One example is cimetidine (Tagamet).
Bismuth subsalicylate: More commonly known as Pepto-Bismol, this medicine works by coating the ulcer and protecting it from stomach acid.
Your doctor may recommend that you undergo screenings for H. pylori infection at least 4-5 weeks after your treatment. If the tests show the treatment was unsuccessful, you may undergo another course of treatment with a different combination of antibiotic medications.
H Pylori Kit:
This kit works by eradicating H. Pylori Infection & helps to balance the pH and bile naturally to reduce acidity and ulcers associated with it.
Each 40 Day Kit Contains:
Xembran® - 1 Bottle of 120 Tablets
Acidim® - 2 Bottles of 160 Tablets
This natural H. pylori formula is typically recommended for 6 to 8 months, or until complete recovery.