H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) is a type of bacteria that can infect the stomach and small intestine. The bacteria can survive in the harsh acidic environment of the stomach by releasing enzymes that neutralize stomach acid. H. pylori infection is a common cause of peptic ulcers and can also lead to inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis) and stomach cancer. It is also believed to play a role in the development of acid reflux and other digestive disorders.
Cause of H. pylori
The exact cause of H. pylori infection is not well understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
- Contaminated food and water: H. pylori is typically spread through contaminated food and water. Consuming food or water that is contaminated with H. pylori bacteria can lead to infection.
- Close contact with an infected person: H. pylori can also be spread through close contact with an infected person. This can include contact through shared utensils, kissing, or living in close quarters with an infected person.
- Poor sanitation and hygiene: People who live in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene are at a higher risk of H. pylori infection.
- Crowded living conditions: People who live in crowded conditions, such as in homeless shelters or crowded apartments, are at a higher risk of H. pylori infection.
- Low socioeconomic status: People with low socioeconomic status are at a higher risk of H. pylori infection.
- Genetics: Research suggests that people with a family history of H. pylori infection are more likely to develop the infection themselves.
- Age: H. pylori infection is more common in older adults, but can affect people of all ages.
- Smoking and alcohol consumption: H. pylori infection is more common in people who smoke and consume alcohol regularly.
Symptoms of H-Pylori
H. pylori infection is a common cause of peptic ulcers and can also lead to inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis) and stomach cancer. Many people with H. pylori infection do not have any symptoms, but when symptoms do occur, they can include:
- Abdominal pain: This is the most common symptom of H. pylori infection. The pain is usually located in the upper part of the abdomen and can be dull or gnawing. It may be worse on an empty stomach or at night.
- Nausea and vomiting: Nausea and vomiting can occur as a result of the inflammation caused by H. pylori infection.
- Bloating: H. pylori infection can cause bloating and a feeling of fullness in the stomach.
- Loss of appetite: H. pylori infection can decrease appetite and lead to weight loss.
- Burping or belching: H. pylori infection can cause excessive burping or belching.
- Black, tarry stools or blood in the stools: H. pylori infection can cause bleeding in the stomach or small intestine, which can lead to black, tarry stools or blood in the stools.
- Indigestion: H. pylori infection can cause indigestion, which can include symptoms such as heartburn, acid reflux, and acid regurgitation.
- Unexplained fatigue: H. pylori infection can cause chronic fatigue, which can be due to anemia (low iron levels) caused by chronic blood loss.
It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, and it’s best to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Some people with H. pylori infection may have no symptoms, but still have the infection and may not be aware of it
Risk and complications of H. pylori
H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) infection is a common cause of stomach and small intestine infections. In some cases, if left untreated, it can lead to several complications, such as:
- Peptic ulcers: H. pylori infection can cause ulcers to form in the stomach or small intestine. These ulcers can cause pain, bleeding, and can even lead to a hole in the stomach or small intestine (perforation).
- Gastritis: H. pylori infection can cause inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), which can lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
- Stomach cancer: H. pylori infection increases the risk factor of stomach cancer. According to studies, people infected with H. pylori are two to six times more likely to develop stomach cancer than those without the infection.
- Iron deficiency anemia: H. pylori infection can cause chronic blood loss, which can lead to iron deficiency anemia.
- Acid reflux: H. pylori infection can cause acid reflux, which can lead to heartburn and acid regurgitation.
- Atrophic gastritis: H. pylori infection can lead to Atrophic gastritis, a chronic inflammation of the stomach lining that can lead to a loss of stomach cells and a reduction in the amount of stomach acid.
It’s important to note that most people who are infected with H. pylori do not develop complications. However, if you suspect that you may have an H. pylori infection, it’s important to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment to prevent potential complications
Tests Used to Diagnose H-Pylori
How is H-Pylori diagnosed? H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) infection can be diagnosed through a variety of tests, including:
- Urea breath test: This test involves drinking a solution containing urea, which is broken down by H. pylori bacteria in the stomach. If H. pylori is present, the breath will contain increased levels of carbon dioxide.
- Stool antigen test: This test looks for H. pylori antigens (proteins) in a stool sample.
- Blood test: This test looks for antibodies (proteins that the body produces in response to an infection) to H. pylori in the blood.
- Biopsy: A biopsy is the removal of a small sample of tissue from the stomach or small intestine for examination under a microscope. Biopsy can also confirm the presence of H. pylori bacteria.
- Imaging: Imaging tests such as endoscopy and upper gastrointestinal series (UGI) may also be used to diagnose H. pylori infection. During endoscopy, a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera is passed through the mouth to examine the inside of the stomach. During UGI, X-ray is taken after drinking a chalky liquid that coats the inside of the stomach and small intestine, which can make it easier to detect H. pylori.
H. Pylori Treatment
H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) infection is typically treated with a combination of antibiotics and medications to reduce stomach acid. The specific antibiotics used will depend on the individual case and the susceptibility of the H. pylori strains to certain antibiotics. Common antibiotics used to treat H. pylori infection include:
Amoxicillin: A type of penicillin antibiotic that is effective against H. pylori.
Clarithromycin: A macrolide antibiotic that is effective against H. pylori.
Metronidazole: An antibiotic that is effective against H. pylori and can also be used to treat other types of infections, such as those caused by anaerobic bacteria.
Tetracycline: An antibiotic that is effective against H. pylori, but is not commonly used due to the risk of resistance.
Levofloxacin: A fluoroquinolone antibiotic that is effective against H. pylori.
Furazolidone: This antibiotic is not commonly used in H. pylori treatment because of the side effects
These antibiotics are usually given in combination with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) and a bismuth subsalicylate (BSS) medication, which can help to reduce stomach acid and protect the stomach lining. It’s important to note that the use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, so it’s important to only use antibiotics when they are truly needed and to take them exactly as prescribed by a doctor. It goes without saying, that you should not self-medicate; these are prescription drugs and are to be prescribed by a qualified medical doctor only.
Diet for H. pylori
Dietary changes may help to alleviate symptoms of H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) infection and promote healing. The following are some dietary recommendations for individuals with H. pylori infection:
- Consume anti-inflammatory foods: Include foods in your diet that are high in anti-inflammatory compounds, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Avoid spicy and fatty foods: Spicy and fatty foods can irritate the stomach and exacerbate symptoms of H. pylori infection.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption: Caffeine and alcohol can irritate the stomach and exacerbate symptoms of H. pylori infection.
- Consume probiotic-rich foods: Consuming probiotics-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso may help to improve gut health and reduce the growth of H. pylori.
- Avoid processed foods: Processed foods are high in added sugars, salt, and preservatives, which can cause inflammation and irritation in the stomach.
- Drink plenty of water: Drinking water can help to keep the stomach hydrated and reduce symptoms of H. pylori infection.
- Eat small and frequent meals: Eating small and frequent meals can help to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach and reduce symptoms of H. pylori infection.
It’s important to note that dietary changes alone may not be enough to completely eradicate H. pylori infection, and it’s essential to follow a treatment plan under the guidance of a healthcare professional
Probiotics for H.pylori
Probiotics are microorganisms that live in our gut and help in digestion and a host of other body functions apart from providing many other health benefits. Some studies have suggested that probiotics may help to reduce the risk of H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) infection, or to improve symptoms of H. pylori-related gastritis. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Consuming probiotics through natural food sources such as:
- Fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir, contain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains.
- Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi, contain Lactobacillus strains.
- Fermented soy products like tempeh and miso, contain Lactobacillus strains.
- Kombucha, a fermented tea that contains several strains of probiotics.
Consuming probiotics in form of probiotic capsules that can be found in health food stores and online containing:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Streptococcus thermophilus
Also Read: Different Types of Probiotics – sources & function
It’s important to note that probiotics may not be suitable for everyone and it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional before taking probiotics, especially if you have a weakened immune system, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It’s also important to note that probiotics are not a replacement for a healthy diet, good hygiene, and medical treatment if needed
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Published : [email protected] - 01/26/2023
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