The H. pylori bacteria thrive in the GI tract and tends to strike the stomach lining. The infections are generally harmless but responsible for most cases of ulcers in the small intestine and the stomach.
What are the causes?
It is still not clear how the infections spread. The infections are believed to spread from one’s mouth to another or transferred from feces to the mouth. This can occur if proper handwashing is not done after using the bathroom. In addition, the bacteria can also spread via contact with contaminated food or water.
The bacteria are believed to penetrate the mucous lining of the stomach and release substances that neutralize the stomach acid. This causes the stomach cells to be more susceptible to the harsh acids.
What are the indications of an infection?
Many cases of H. pylori infections do not have any evident symptoms. Once the infection results to an ulcer, the symptoms might include abdominal pain particularly if the stomach is hollow at night time or a few hours after finishing a meal.
The pain is defined as gnawing and can come and go. Eating or using antacids can alleviate the pain. A doctor must be consulted if the pain does not settle.
Other symptoms that might occur with H. pylori infection include:
- Excessive burping
- Diminished appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Foul breath
- Unexplained weight loss
Management of H. pylori infection
If an individual has H. pylori infection that does not trigger any issues and not at high risk for stomach cancer, treatment might not be needed.
It is important to note that stomach cancer along with stomach and duodenal ulcers is linked with H. pylori infection. If there is a family history of stomach cancer or issues such as ulcers, the doctor will require treatment.
A combination of 2 different antibiotics might be prescribed along with another drug that lowers the stomach acid. Reducing the stomach acid allows the antibiotics to work effectively.
Some of these medications include:
- Proton-pump inhibitors