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What Is H. pylori? An infection in your stomach.

Updated on October 12, 2014

That Quiet Little Bug

Helicobater pylorium bacterium better known as H. pylori is a bacteria which invades the stomach and can potentially be the cause of some serious health problems, and in others it may not cause any health problems at all. According to the Mayo Clinic, H. Pylori is thought to be present in about half the people of the world.

H. pylori is a smart bacteria that has adapted to the acids in the stomach. Most bacteria and viruses are destroyed by the gastric juice and hydrochloric acid in our stomach, but H. pylori has found a way to survive by living in the mucus lining of the stomach where it is protected by a cloud of neutralizing chemicals that it has learned to produce. With these factors, it is a bit of a challenge getting rid of this bug. The good news, though, is that H. pylori is declining in the United States.

Symptoms Of H. pylori

At first one may not realize that they have H. pylori, the symptoms may be very subtle in the beginning. Symptoms are stomach distress, acid reflux, frequent burping, nausea, sometimes vomiting, depression, fatigue, sour stomach, bloating, a dull sick feeling in the stomach or you may be symptom free. A person with H. pylori may experience a gnawing feeling in the stomach or a feeling like they are very hungry, even after a full nutritious meal and actually having relief by eating.

What Causes H. pylori

It is now believed that H. pylori can be contracted by ingesting contaminated water or food. It is also believed that H. pylori may also be transmitted orally by kissing a person infected with it. H. pylori enters through the mouth and then passes through the digestive system. Acid reflux can also cause H. pylori because sometimes during acid reflux very small fecal matter from the intestines can back up into the stomach causing the infection.

Risk Factors

  • Living in crowded conditions
  • Living with someone who has H.pylori
  • Living in developing countries
  • Living without an adequate hot water supply

Complications

Many people with H.pylori will develop health problems but there are those who will not develop any health problems. Complications include ulcers in the stomach, it is now believed that H.pylori is the cause for duodenal ulcers, inflammation of the stomach lining or stomach cancer.

Testing and diagnosing

Testing for H.pylori can be done in three way:

  • A blood test - to test for protein antigens to H.pylori
  • A breath test - in which a substance called urea is given by mouth, which is then broken down by a strong enzyme that H.pylori releases, then producing carbon dioxide which is exhaled and can be measured
  • By an endoscopy - a scope used to go down your stomach with a small camera on the end so that the surgeon can view the lining of the stomach and take a biopsy for diagnosing H. pylori

Treatment

Treatment for H.pylori is usually involves three medications:

  1. Antibiotics - to get rid of the infection
  2. Proton Pump Inhibitors - to suppress the acids in the stomach
  3. Histamine (H2 blockers) - to reduce the amount of acids released into the digestive track.

Therapy is usually for 2 weeks, then testing again is recommended to make sure the infection is gone.  If results are positive again, usually therapy is repeated with different antibiotics.

Prevention

  1. Don't eat food that has been sitting out all day
  2. Wash hands frequently
  3. Drink clean water from reputable sources
  4. Keep cutting boards clean
  5. Wash hands after covering a cough or sneeze
  6. Try not to touch your face, especially around your mouth or nose
  7. Try to work in ventilated areas, if you can't, leave a door or window opened

Although using these methods is not 100%, it will reduce your risk of developing this quiet bug.

Comments

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    • How to - Answers profile image

      L M Reid 

      2 years ago from Ireland

      I have been suffering from these symptoms of H. pylori for a while now. I am waiting for the endoscopy test.

      Very informative article

    • creativelycc profile imageAUTHOR

      Carrie L Cronkite 

      5 years ago from Maine

      Hi Elisha,

      It is a nasty bug, I was lucky one round of antibiotics worked for me. Some people aren't as lucky and have to repeat the process. Thank you for your comment. The best to you!

    • Elisha Jachetti profile image

      Elisha Jachetti 

      5 years ago

      Often times the antibiotics don't even help. It is a very tricky problem.

    • creativelycc profile imageAUTHOR

      Carrie L Cronkite 

      5 years ago from Maine

      Thank you very much healthylife2 for your comments. It's very easy to get tested and treated for H.Pylori. Left untreated can lead to some bad problems. Some people have to be treated twice to get rid of the bug, but it's sure is worth it. Thank you again!

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 

      5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thanks for another very informative article. I can almost guarantee many are misdiagnosed when they have H. pylori because the symptoms are so similar to other intestinal disorders. It looks like the test and treatment are very straight forward so people should ask their doctors to test for it if they have these symptoms. Voted up and shared!

    • creativelycc profile imageAUTHOR

      Carrie L Cronkite 

      5 years ago from Maine

      Thank you very mush RN2 for your comment! I'll check out your hub, the best to you!

    • RN2 profile image

      Rob 

      5 years ago from Central New York State

      Good post. Although, I have a different take on this little bug. I guess we are always fighting the good with the bad. Take a look at my hub.

    • creativelycc profile imageAUTHOR

      Carrie L Cronkite 

      7 years ago from Maine

      Thank you very much g-ann.

    • profile image

      g-ann 

      7 years ago

      very informative and helpful

    • creativelycc profile imageAUTHOR

      Carrie L Cronkite 

      8 years ago from Maine

      You are very welcome jite. Thank you for reading my hub!

    • jite profile image

      jite 

      8 years ago from delhi

      very informative n useful hub,Thanks

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