Helicobacter Pylori infection (H. pylori) is a disorder of the stomach that occurs due to disease-spreading bacteria, called H. pylori present in the body. A primary cause of acute gastritis and peptic ulcers, H. pylori bacteria are present in about 50% of humans but it does not cause illness most of the time. Generally, infection is seen in children and infants. Kids that specifically reside in areas with poor sanitation are prone to such stomach infections, as this bacterium easily thrives in unhygienic environments. Symptoms include stomach pain, indigestion, sudden loss of weight, and blood in the vomit. H-pylori can be treated with antibiotics. In rare cases, an untreated severe infection of this bacteria can lead to stomach cancer.
Also Read: Gastric Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Causes Of H. Pylori Infection?
The exact cause of H. pylori infection is not known because the bacteria reside inside the human body. Primarily, H. pylori infection spreads through kissing, or gets transferred through vomit or stool. The bacteria can also spread through contact with contaminated water or food.
Symptoms of H. Pylori infection
Most people with H. pylori do not display major symptoms until the bacteria has caused damage to the innermost lining of the stomach. This result is severe peptic ulcers. Common symptoms of this problem include:
- Dull, throbbing, or a burning stomach pain
- Bloating in the stomach with unusual burping
- Dark, black-colored feces
- A weak digestive system
- Nausea and vomiting
- Poor appetite
- Blood in stools
- Swelling in the abdominal region
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Iron deficiency anaemia
Also Read: Gastritis Diet: Here’s What You Should Eat And Avoid, To Ease Stomach Inflammation
Risk factors Of H. Pylori Infection
As compared to adults, children are more likely to develop H. Pylori bacterial infection because children may be complacent when maintaining hygiene. More often, the person’s living conditions also play an important role in the risk of catching an H. Pylori infection. The risk is higher if there is a lack of availability of clean water and well-sanitized surroundings, or if people live in overcrowded conditions and come in contact with an infected person.
How Is H. Pylori Infection diagnosed?
The most apparent symptom of this infection is poor digestive health. Thus, a doctor advises getting tested for H. pylori bacterial infection if there are many digestive issues. To diagnose an H. pylori infection, the following tests are taken:
Stool Test: A healthcare professional collects a sample of a patient’s feces, and sends it to a laboratory for a stool antigen or a stool culture test.
Blood Test: A sample of blood is drawn from a person’s arm and the sample is sent to look for antibodies to H. pylori.
Breath Test: A urea breath test is done by making the patient breathe into a collection bag two times. It is done to check for abnormal levels of carbon dioxide levels in the breath. Elevated levels can be a sign of an H. pylori infection. In between providing two breath samples, a liquid with radioactive material is given orally and a comparison of the two samples is done to check for H. pylori bacterial presence.
Endoscopy: When the above-stated tests may not bring relevant results, the doctor may recommend getting an endoscopy or an esophageal manometry test to get a detailed view of the esophagus, stomach lining, and the small intestine. During the procedure, a long, thin tube called an endoscope is put into the duodenum (part of the small intestine) via the mouth.
Also Read: Esophageal Manometry Test: Procedure, Risks And Results
Complications of H. Pylori InfectionPylori infection can sometimes lead to serious complications such as internal bleeding, which is when a peptic ulcer breaks through your blood vessel, and a serious perforation, which is when an ulcer breaks through your stomach wall. In very rare cases, H. pylori can also increase the risk of stomach cancer (gastric adenocarcinoma)
How Can H. Pylori Infection Be Treated?Pylori treatment usually includes an antibiotic treatment that helps to kill the bacteria. But in most cases, if an H. pylori infection is not causing any problems, treatment may not be very effective unless there is an increased risk of stomach cancer. The best way is to prevent the spread.
Preventing H. Pylori Infection
Practicing healthy habits and maintaining hygiene is the best way to help prevent infection. Washing hands frequently, especially before eating, or after using the bathroom, drinking clean potable water, and eating well-cleaned and cooked food are the best ways to keep H. Pylori infection at bay.