What is H. Pylori Infection: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Have you been diagnosed with H. pylori infection? Or is any of your loved ones suffering from H. pylori infection? Knowing about H Pylori infection, causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment can help you mange this condition effectively.

What is H. Pylori Infection?

H. Pylori Infection

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are a kind of bacteria which can enter the body and thrive in the digestive tract. H. pylori infection is mostly harmless and hardly triggers any symptoms. However, this infection is responsible for causing sores, known as ulcers, in the stomach lining or the upper region of the small intestine. Sometimes, this infection can even lead to stomach cancer.

H. pylori infection is quite common, and nearly 60% of the world’s population has these bacteria in their bodies. Children are more susceptible to H. pylori infection due to lack of proper hygiene. The risk for infection partly depends on environment and living conditions. Non-Hispanic Black or Mexican American face a higher risk for H.pylori infection. Let us explore more about H Pylori infection, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

What Causes H. Pylori Infection?

The causes of H. pylori infection and the way it spreads is still not precisely known. It is believed that the bacteria spread from one person’s mouth to another. They may also get transferred from feces to the mouth when an individual does not maintain proper bathroom hygiene. H. pylori can even spread via contact with contaminated food or water. Apart from the causes of H. pylori infection, there may be certain trigger factors that worsen the symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of H. Pylori Infection?

Most people may not have any symptoms of H. Pylori-infection. Although the reason for this is not clear, it is believed that some people are more resistant to the ill effects of H. Pylori since birth. However, some signs and symptoms of H. pylori infection include ache or burning pain in the abdomen, frequent burping, bloating, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and unintentional weight loss.

How are H. Pylori Infections Diagnosed?

The doctor can physically examine the patient and inquire about their medical history and family history related to the complaints. The doctor may also perform specific tests and procedures like blood antibody tests, stool antigen tests, carbon urea breath tests and endoscopy to confirm the diagnosis of H. Pylori-infection.

What is the Treatment of H. Pylori Infection?

Infected people who are not experiencing any problems due to the infection, and neither are at an increased risk of stomach cancer, do not need any treatment. Other H.pylori infected individuals usually need to take a combination of two different antibiotics, along with another drug that decreases stomach acid. This treatment is sometimes called triple therapy. This is considered as the main line of treatment of H. Pylori-infection.

Some of the drugs which are used in a triple therapy treatment of H. Pylori-infection include clarithromycin, rabeprazole, pantoprazole, Amoxicillin, metronidazole. And proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) like lansoprazole and esomeprazole.

Treatment of H. Pylori-infection may differ according to the patient’s past medical history and if they are allergic to any of these medications. Post-treatment, the patient needs to have a follow-up test for H. pylori. Although only one round of antibiotics is required to clear the infection for most patients, some may need to take more, using different drugs. The doctor may ask the patient to take a stool and breathe test again after 1-2 weeks of finishing the treatment, for making sure that the infection is gone.

It has still not been proven that food and nutrition play a role in causing or preventing peptic ulcer disease in people infected with H. pylori. However, alcohol, smoking and spicy foods, can worsen an existing peptic ulcer and prevent it from healing completely.

Final Take

As more of the world is getting access to better sanitation and clean water, fewer people than before are contracting this bacterial infection. By practicing good health habits, people can protect themselves and their families thus help in prevention of H. pylori infection.

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