Helicobacter Pylori or H. Pylori is a common type of bacteria that usually causes the infection of the digestive tract. About 60 percent of the adult population of the entire world is affected by H. Pylori, and it is commonly seen in the western developed countries. “Helico” means spiral, and the name comes from its spiral shape. This shape makes it easy to penetrate the stomach lining, causing ulcers in the stomach. If the treatment for Helicobacter Pylori is not done on time, the complications can be life-threatening. Here are a few things related to the H. Pylori.
The signs and symptoms of Helicobacter Pylori
In about 85% of the cases of Helicobacter Pylori, there are no symptoms and complications. When there’s already an ulcer in the stomach, one can start feeling abdominal pain at night or a few hours after meals when the stomach is empty. This is a troubling pain that is timely, and it goes off on its own.
Some other symptoms associated with H. Pylori infection are as listed:
- Excessive burping
- A feeling of bloating
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- In the later stage of H. Pylori infection, some of the symptoms are trouble in swallowing, anemia, blood in the stool, vomiting, black spots on the face, and so on.
Causes of Helicobacter Pylori
The H. Pylori infection is known to spread from one person’s mouth to another. When a person does not wash their hands properly after using the bathroom, there are chances of the infection spreading. Also, it can spread through contaminated food and water.
The H. Pylori bacteria penetrates the stomach’s mucous lining and forms the element that neutralizes the stomach acid. This stomach acid irritates the stomach lining and causes stomach ulcer.
Risk factors for the Helicobacter Pylori infection
The risk of developing a disease of H. Pylori depends on the environment and the living conditions. These are as follows:
- Children have more chance of contracting an H. Pylori infection due to lack of proper hygiene.
- People in developing countries.
- Sharing houses with people infected by H. Pylori.
- Living in overcrowded houses.
- If there is no access to hot water, which can clean the area and keep it free from bacteria, the risk of infection is high.
- The people of non-Hispanic Black or Mexican American descent are more prone to the disease.
- So it is seen that peptic ulcer is caused due to bacterial infection rather than the notion of having more stress, acidic food, and so on. The long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like NSAIDs can also increase the risk of getting a peptic ulcer.
Complications of H. Pylori infections
The H. Pylori infection often has a chance to form peptic ulcers. This infection or the sore can turn itself to more severe complications. These are as mentioned:
- It can lead to internal bleeding if the peptic ulcer breaks through the blood vessel due to iron deficiency and anemia.
- Obstruction may occur if a tumor blocks the food from leaving the stomach.
- Perforation may occur with sore breaks in the stomach wall.
- Peritonitis, which is the infection of the peritoneum or the lining of the abdominal cavity.
- From studies, it is seen that about 10 to 20% people suffering from the H. Pylori infection have a chance of having peptic ulcer, whereas among 1% to 2% people who already developed peptic ulcer can develop stomach cancer.
Treatment for Helicobacter Pylori
The Helicobacter Pylori infection, if not given proper and timely treatment, can cause stomach cancer, along with duodenal and stomach ulcers. A doctor can give treatment for Helicobacter Pylori to heal the ulcer and reduce the risk and complications of stomach cancer.
Triple therapy is used for treating Helicobacter Pylori. A medicine for reducing the stomach acid is given, along with a combination of two different antibiotics. Stomach acid reduction helps the antibiotics act efficiently. The use of three medicines names it as the triple therapy.
The drugs used in a triple therapy treatment for Helicobacter Pylori are as follows:
- Proton-pump inhibitors or PPI such as lansoprazole or Prevacid, esomeprazole or Nexium, pantoprazole or Protonix, and rabeprazole or Aciphex
- Metronidazole for 1 to 2 weeks
- Amoxicillin for 1 to 2 weeks
The treatment for Helicobacter Pylori varies depending on the patient’s past medical history. If one has allergies to any of these medications, a different set of medicines will be used.
Also, a follow-up test for Helicobacter Pylori is required after the treatment. In most cases, only one round of antibiotics is needed to clear up the infection, but sometimes you need to take different types of drugs.
Lifestyle and diet
In case of the H. Pylori infection, food and nutrition do not cause or prevent the H. Pylori infection, but spicy food, alcohol, and smoking can aggravate and worsen the peptic ulcer and avert it from healing.
In most cases, H. Pylori infections are not severe. Any symptoms related to H. Pylori persisting for a few days must be treated quickly, and they are mostly curable. If the infection persists after one round of treatment for Helicobacter Pylori or if the peptic ulcer returns, there could be a severe problem and stomach cancer may develop. It is very rare to develop stomach cancer in the case of H. Pylori, but if you have a history of stomach cancer in the family, it raises the chances of you developing it as well.