Dr. Ken D. Nguyen is a gastroenterologist at Pacifica Digestive Health. He is also the President and was one of the co-founders of Pacifica Digestive Health. His clinical interests include screening and management of gastric cancer in Asian patients, viral hepatitis (including hepatitis B and hepatitis C), advanced liver disease and cirrhosis, colon cancer screening, and international medicine.
What is H. Pylori Infection?
H. pylori infection is a form of infection that happens when a bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori infects the stomach. This usually occurs during childhood and is normally one of the main causes of peptic ulcers. Most individuals are not aware that they have the infections since they normally do not have any symptoms from it.
Symptoms of H. pylori
Most individuals who are affected never end up having any signs and symptoms related to H. pylori. However, some people may develop symptoms. Some signs and symptoms that you may have include:
Burning pain or ache in abdomen
Abdominal pain that may worsen in an empty stomach
Loss of appetite
Unintended weight loss
Black stool or vomiting of blood
Causes of H. pylori
H. pylori it is most likely passed from one person to another, mostly common between family members. It may passed through direct contact with saliva, fecal matter and vomit. You may pick up H. pylori through the ingestion of contaminated water or even food. This is more common in developing or third-world countries.
Risk Factors for H. pylori Infection
The infections is normally contacted during childhood and the risk factors for developing H. pylori is greatly associated by environmental factors:
Living in area that have no reliable supply of clean water: Access to clean water greatly reduces the risk of developing the H. pylori infection.
Living in crowded conditions: In addition, living in an environment that is very crowded also increases your risk.
Living in a developing country: Individuals who live in developing countries in crowded and unsanitary condition normally also have a higher chance of acquiring the infection.
Living with an infected individual: If a family member has the infection, it is very easy spread it between family members.
Complications That May Arise
There are various complications that can arise as a result of H. pylori infection, which include:
The inflammation of the stomach lining: H. pylori can cause some irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining, also known as gastritis.
Ulcers: When there is significant inflammation and irritation of the stomach lining, a sore or disruption of the stomach line can occur. If the ulcer is big and deep enough, it may erode into the blood vessels of the stomach or small intestine, leading to gastroenterintestinal bleeding (GI bleeding).
Stomach cancer: H. pylori infection is also a know risk factor for development of stomach cancer.
Treatment of the H. Pylori Infection
H. pylori can be diagnosed by testing the stool, doing a breath test (called the urea breath test), or by taking a biopsy during an upper GI endoscopy. Treatment usually requires a combination of medication, usually including an antibiotic and proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Treatment various from 10 to 14 days. After finishing the treatment, your doctor usually checks to make sure the infection is irradiated either by stool testing or by a breath test.