What is Heliobacter Pylori?
This bacteria has lived in the linings of our stomach for all time, however, it was not identified until 1982! In 1982 Dr Barry Marshall and Dr Robin Warren of Australia correctly identified the bacteria and won the Nobel Prize in 2005 for their work. Until this work was done, it was widely believed that bacteria could not live in the lining of our stomachs, as the acid is something like three times that of a cars battery!
Not only can H. Pylori live but to protect itself from the stomach acid it burrows with flagella into the lining to protect itself. Until this bacterium was cultured it was generally felt that gastritis, stomach ulcers and chronic inflammation of the stomach was caused by spicy foods or stress!
H. Pylori is a gram-negative bacterium that lives in the stomach lining and leads to chronic inflammation, stomach and duodenal ulcers and in rare cases, even stomach cancers. This bacterium is widespread in the world with 50% of the population of the world affected and more prevalent in developing countries.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and Symptoms
Dr Barry Marshall states on his website “Any symptom between the nipples and the belly button could be due to Heliobacter pylori and that endoscopy”… with biopsy and culture…must always be first choice to specifically diagnose the disease. It is also important that before even the simplest test such as the H pylori breath test, is done that the patient not take over the counter pepcid , zantac, Pepto Bismol, prevacid or prilosec for a week or more before the test.
Symptoms of concern include, feeling full or bloated after eating, heartburn, vomiting, gnawing type stomach pain, severe hunger or constant nausea. A person infected with this bacterium can also have gas, bloating, diarrhea and feel tired or run down constantly.
Although many over the counter products may lessen these symptoms, they usually are a temporary fix. Reading the package inserts of all the over the counter products state if symptoms persist after two weeks to seek medical advice.
Heliobacter Pylori can last for decades and often persons infected with this bacterium may require more than one course of therapy. Therapy includes proton pump inhibitors such as prevacid or prilosec with antibiotics such as amoxicillin. If the affected person is allergic to penicillin then Flagyl is given instead. Sometimes therapy must be repeated although Dr B. Marshall warns that taking the same therapy more than twice is not recommended due to risk of antibiotic resistance. As stated, this bacterium can last for decades in the lining of your stomach and persons who have no symptoms of H Pylori should not be treated with antibiotics. The worst case scenario for this illness is increased risk of cancer, specifically stomach cancer so regular visits to your physician will always be necessary.
Ways to Help
There are clinical trials underway now for a vaccine against this illness, however once diagnosed; a vaccine would not be effective.
The best way to help persons infected with the bacteria is with good hygiene practices. Heliobacter Pylori is extremely and easily contagious, passing by way of hand to mouth from person to person.
What does that tell us to do?
Wash your hands frequently and often!
Maintain extremely effective hygienic practices by keeping surfaces disinfected with household bleach in a one to ten solution (one part bleach and ten parts water) and washing hands before and after medications, meals, use of bathroom, touching unclean surfaces, and after coughing or sneezing.