Helicobacter pylori, often abbreviated as H. pylori, is a type of bacteria that can infect your stomach. The fact that bacteria could chronically infect the stomach lining and cause ulcers and even stomach cancer is attributed to the research of Australian physician Dr. Barry Marshall. To prove his theory, Dr. Marshall drank a culture of H. pylori bacteria which infected his stomach and caused ulcers. In 2005 he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine for this discovery.
What is Helicobacter Pylori?
Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that grows in the digestive tract and tends to attack the stomach lining. It is unique because it can survive in the harsh, acidic environment of the stomach. The bacteria can cause ulcers in the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine (duodenum). It can also cause stomach cancer in some cases.
How Do You Get Helicobacter Pylori?
H. pylori is usually contracted during childhood and is more common in developing countries where living conditions may be crowded, and sanitation may be poor. It is believed to spread through contaminated food and water and through direct mouth-to-mouth contact.
Symptoms of Helicobacter Pylori Infection
Many people with H. pylori infection will never have any signs or symptoms. It's unclear why this is, but some people may be born with more resistance to the harmful effects of H. pylori. When signs or symptoms do occur, they may include an ache or burning pain in your abdomen, abdominal pain that's worse when your stomach is empty, nausea, loss of appetite, frequent burping, bloating, and unintentional weight loss.
How is Helicobacter Pylori Infection Diagnosed?
H. pylori infection can be diagnosed by reviewing symptoms and medical history, conducting a physical exam, and running several tests. These tests can include a breath test, a stool test, or an endoscopy, where a tube is inserted down your throat to check for signs in your stomach and small intestine.
Treatment for Helicobacter Pylori Infection
Once diagnosed, it is important to eradicate this chronic infection as it can cause peptic ulcers, gastritis, and, over time, even stomach cancer. Treatment for H. pylori infection involves antibiotics to kill the bacteria and medications to decrease the amount of acid in your stomach. This allows your stomach lining to heal. This treatment requires multiple medications and is pretty harsh, but you’re trying to kill a bacterium that lives in acid all day. It’s not a weakling. It's important to take the medications exactly as prescribed and complete the entire treatment course.
Living with Helicobacter Pylori Infection
Living with H. pylori infection can be challenging, especially if it causes peptic ulcer disease. However, the bacteria can be eliminated with appropriate treatment, and the ulcers can heal. It's important to follow your healthcare provider's advice and treatment plan and seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen or don't improve.
While H. pylori infection can be a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention, with early detection and appropriate treatment, most people with H. pylori infection can manage their symptoms and maintain their quality of life. If you have been diagnosed with H. pylori infection, it's important to understand the condition and to work closely with your healthcare provider to manage your symptoms and maintain your quality of life. Remember, this article is intended to provide general information about H. pylori infection. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Center For Digestive Health & Nutrition
The Center for Digestive Health & Nutrition is a private medical practice comprised of experienced Gastroenterologists, Nurse Practitioners, and staff members dedicated to preventing and treating digestive disorders. Our physicians have been serving the needs of those in Western Pennsylvania and surrounding areas since 1977, having cared for tens of thousands of individuals with digestive problems. Our mission is to deliver high-quality gastroenterology services efficiently and cost-consciously. We realize the very sensitive nature of GI illness and understand the necessity to provide our services in an environment that stresses patient privacy and confidentiality and where patient satisfaction is the goal. Appointments can be conveniently scheduled online via our website above. Learn more about digestive issues on Instagram @thedigestivetract
DISCLAIMER : The information on this website is to provide general information. The information on this website does NOT reflect definitive medical advice, and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a physician for a consultation and examination regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as they may signify a serious illness or condition. An accurate diagnosis and treatment plan should only be made by a qualified doctor to exclude a serious condition.