Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that can infect your stomach and cause an illness.
You may not notice any signs or symptoms if you have an H. pylori infection. However, it can cause peptic ulcers, gastritis, and even stomach cancer in some cases.
The good news is that antibiotics and acid-reducing medications can effectively cure H. pylori.
H. Pylori Symptoms and Signs
what are the first symptoms of h. pylori ?
Most persons with H. pylori do not experience symptoms, but when they do, they include the following.
- Stomach pain or a burning sensation in the stomach
- Pain in the abdomen that is exacerbated when your stomach is empty
- Appetite loss.
- Loss of weight
H. Pylori Causes and Risk Factors
Doctors aren’t clear how the H. pylori virus spreads from one person to the next. According to research, you can contract the bacterium by eating contaminated food or drink. H. pylori can also be disseminated by coming into touch with contaminated saliva, vomit, or faces.
The majority of persons who become infected with H. pylori do so as children.
Some factors might raise your chances of getting an H. pylori infection, including:
- Having to share a cramped living area
- Being a resident in a developing nation
- Lacking access to safe drinking water
- Living with someone who has H. pylori is a challenge.
How Is H. Pylori Diagnosed?
Any time you experience strange stomach problems or concerns, especially if they are chronic or repeated, you should see your doctor.
If you have any of the following symptoms, see a doctor straight away:
- Pain in the stomach or other parts of the abdomen that is severe
- Pain in the stomach or abdomen that does not go away
- Swallowing problems
- Stools that are bloody, black, or tarry
- Vomit that is red or has the appearance of coffee grounds
H. pylori can be detected in a variety of methods.
Your doctor will most likely do a physical examination and inquire about your medical history first. Then they may suggest one or more of these tests to determine the bacteria’s identity.
Test of the Blood
A blood test may be performed to see if you have antibodies to H. pylori. Blood tests are simple to administer, but they aren’t always as accurate as other diagnostic methods.
A breath test entails eating a carbon-containing tablet, drink, or pudding. When you exhale into a bag, your doctor will be able to identify carbon molecules if you have an H. pylori infection.
Breath tests are difficult to do in young children, and you can’t take some medications for a week or two before the test, such as proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics, or Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate).
A stool sample can aid doctors in detecting proteins linked to H. pylori. Before undergoing this test, you must stop using any medications that contain proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics, or bismuth subsalicylate.
Endoscopy of the upper intestine
Your doctor will give you a small sedative before threading a long tube with a tiny camera down your neck, past your esophagus, and into your stomach during an upper endoscopy. This will allow your doctor to examine into your digestive tract and, if required, remove small pieces of tissue (biopsy samples).
If tissue samples are taken, they can be tested for H. pylori infection. An endoscopy is more intrusive than other procedures, such as taking a stool sample or doing a breath test.
Should You Have Your H. Pylori Virus Tested?
Doctors test healthy people for H. pylori even if they have no signs or symptoms in areas where the risk of infection is high, a process called as medical screening. However, the medical profession is divided on whether this level of screening is useful.
If you’re at a high risk for stomach cancer, it’s a good idea to be tested for H. pylori.
H. Pylori prognosis
Many people who have H. pylori don’t have any symptoms and are unaware that they have the virus.
Treatment is typically successful if you develop symptoms or consequences. Antibiotics and acid-reducing medicines are commonly used to treat H. pylori infections.
H. Pylori infection lasts for a long time.
H. pylori may live for a lifetime if left untreated, yet it usually causes relatively minor harm. Many people who have the illness don’t show any signs or symptoms, and as a result, they don’t have any health concerns.
If someone does experience symptoms, the H. pylori therapy normally lasts two weeks, with follow-up testing to ensure the infection has gone away.
H. Pylori Treatment & Medication Options
You may not need to take any drugs if you have an H. pylori infection but don’t have any annoying symptoms or develop an ulcer.
Alternatives to Medication
If you do require medical attention, your doctor will most likely prescribe an antibiotic as well as an acid-reducing medication. Typically, these drugs are used for 10 to 14 days.
To treat the illness, you’ll usually require two or more antibiotics at the same time. This prevents microorganisms from developing resistance to a single antibiotic.
Antibiotics are often used to treat H. pylori infections:
- Amoxicillin (Amoxil, Larotid, Moxtag)
- Metronidazole (Flagyl)
- Clarithromycin (Biaxin)
- Rifabutin (Mycobutin)
- Tetracycline (Achromycin)
It’s important to take antibiotics exactly as your doctor prescribes including taking all doses of the medication, even if your symptoms improve.
These medications may help you have less acid in your stomach:
- Proton pump inhibitors function by preventing stomach acid from being produced.
- Prilosec (omeprazole), Nexium (esomeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole), and Protonix (lansoprazole) are among them (pantoprazole).
- Histamine (H2) blockers work by inhibiting the formation of stomach acid by a molecule in your body called histamine. H2 blockers like Pepcid (famotidine) and Zantac (ranitidine) are widely used.
- Bismuth subsalicylate, often known as Pepto-Bismol, works by covering stomach ulcers and protecting them from acid.
Also, aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), should be avoided since they might irritate your stomach and cause gastrointestinal bleeding.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Some foods or supplements with antibacterial or antiviral qualities have been studied for their ability to treat H. pylori infections and the ulcers that can occur as a result. Garlic, honey, broccoli, green tea, and red wine are among them.
According to a research published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, while certain studies revealed that some drugs may have strong anti-inflammatory and gastro-protective actions, there is no evidence that any alternative treatment may effectively eliminate, and hence cure, H. pylori.
It’s recommended that any alternative therapy be discussed with your doctor and should only be used along with traditional H. pylori eradication medication.
Following a consistent meal pattern that does not cause your stomach to remain empty for lengthy periods of time will help decrease stomach discomfort and other symptoms of H. pylori infection. This may involve eating five or six tiny meals per day instead of three moderate to big meals.
The following are some more H. pylori self-care suggestions:
- Foods that are hot or fatty should be avoided.
- If you have stomach problems, stay away from caffeinated liquids like coffee, tea, and soda.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
- Hand hygiene should be practice.
Return Visits to the Doctor
Your doctor may recommend that you get tested for H. pylori again four weeks after you’ve been treated for the infection. If the illness persists, you may need to repeat the therapy with a different antibiotic.
H. Pylori prevention
Currently, there is no vaccination available to guard against H. pylori infection. There are no conventional preventative strategies since researchers are unsure what causes the virus or how it spreads.
Nonetheless, it’s critical to follow proper hygiene practice:
- Hands should be washed regularly and thoroughly.
- Drink water from a reputable and safe source.
- Don’t eat food that has been tainted.
H. Pylori complications
Ulcers, gastritis, and stomach cancer are all possible side effects of H. pylori infection.
A stomach ulcer affects around 10% of those who have H. pylori (sore). When H. pylori infects the mucous layer that coats the lining of your stomach and small intestine, this happens. Strong stomach acid can penetrate through the lining and cause harm if this delicate covering is removed.
H. pylori is responsible for more than 90% of intestinal ulcers and up to 80% of stomach ulcers.
Ulcers can have major problems in and of themselves:
- Bleeding from inside When stomach acid or an ulcer rips a blood artery, this occurs.
- Obstruction Food might become stuck in your stomach if you have an ulcer.
- Perforation An ulcer can become infected and become large enough to break through the stomach or intestinal wall.
- Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity) that occurs when an ulcer causes infection or inflammation.
Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. People who have H. pylori are more likely to develop this illness.
Gastritis can cause serious blood loss and increase your risk of stomach cancer if left untreated.
Cancer of the stomach
An infection with H. pylori puts you at risk for some forms of stomach cancer.
Stomach cancer is the world’s second leading cause of cancer-related mortality. It is more widespread in Asian and South American countries than in Western countries.
Who has H. Pylori, according to research and statistics?
The H. pylori bacterium infects around half of the world’s population.
The disease is more common in underdeveloped nations, where children get afflicted before they reach the age of ten. In industrialized nations, such as the United States, H. pylori infection is less frequent in children, but it grows increasingly common in adults.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, H. pylori infections affect 30 to 40% of Americans.
H. Pylori in Black and Hispanic Communities
H. pylori is more frequent in African-Americans and Hispanics than in white people.
H. pylori infection is more common in Black Americans with a larger proportion of African ancestry than in Black Americans with a lower proportion of African ancestry. This might indicate that, in addition to socioeconomic issues and differences in treatment and access to healthcare, racial and genetic variables may play a role in predisposing Black individuals to infection.
In comparison to white Americans, black and Hispanic Americans, as well as Americans of East Asian and Southeast Asian heritage, have a greater prevalence of gastric and stomach cancer. Despite the fact that H. pylori infection is a known risk factor for stomach cancer, a research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention discovered that many patients in these higher risk categories aren’t offered sufficient infection screening, which has detrimental consequences.
H. Pylori-Related Conditions
Gastritis is a disease that affects the digestive system. Gastritis is an abnormal inflammation of the stomach lining caused by H. pylori. H. pylori gastritis can progress to peptic ulcers and stomach cancer if left untreated.
Long-term H. pylori infection of the stomach can cause inflammation and damage to the stomach’s inner layer, which can lead to cancer. These alterations, particularly in the lower section of the stomach, can sometimes develop to cancer over time.
H. pylori and the development of rosacea have been linked in several studies, however the evidence is weak and unclear. arrow pointing up According to a review of research published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases in 2018, treatment for H. pylori in rosacea patients is more successful than standard rosacea therapy.