Helicobacter pylori, also known as H. pylori is a gram negative, slow growing, highly motile, spiral shaped bacteria infecting the stomach. Helicobacter Pylori has been found to be the main cause for stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine) ulcer. In 1983, the two Australian researchers Warren and Marshal were the first to isolate this bacterium from the human stomach mucosa.
H. pylori infection is acquired in childhood. Most people may remain asymptomatic throughout their life as the bacteria may not produce any symptoms. Only one out six persons infected with H.
The acidic environment of stomach is virtually inhospitable to every organism. However, helicobacter is able to survive in the stomach. This is due to its spiral shape and fast motility. Both favor its deep penetration into the stomach wall. The bacteria produce an enzyme called urease which transiently weakens the stomach lining. Acid present in stomach may seep into the stomach wall leading to ulcer formation.
Once it adheres to the stomach lining it also causes the inflammation of stomach lining (gastritis). H. pylori is also known to stimulate excess acid secretion which may ultimately harm the stomach wall.
Although it is not exactly known how the infection is spread, research suggests that the organism is transmitted from person to person. It can occur either through feco oral route. This means it spreads from contamination of water and food. Bad sanitation, sharing a bed and unhygienic conditions can be a major risk for spread of the organism from one person to another.
Symptoms Of H Pylori Infection
Large numbers of people are carrying H pylori in the stomach.
The symptoms that are produced by H pylori are those of gastritis and peptic ulcer (stomach or duodenum ulcer). Following are the symptoms present with H pylori infection.
- Burning pain in the stomach in epigastric region (area just below the end of breast bone). Pain increases during empty stomach and ameliorates after eating food.
- Loss of appetite.
- Dark tarry stool.
- Vomiting of blood.
Diagnosis And Treatment For H Pylori Bacteria
Diagnosis of H pylori is as important as treating the condition. The diagnostic test can be divided into two groups, those that require endoscopic biopsy and those that do not require it. The gold standard is histological presence of H pylori in the sample obtained of the biopsy material.
Urea breath test is the non invasive test which does not require biopsy. Stool and blood test can also help to detect H. pylori. Barium X-ray of stomach and duodenum is also useful for detecting ulcer or any growth in stomach caused as a consequence of H pylori infection.
Helicobacter Pylori Bacteria Treatment
Single medication is ineffective to eradicate H pylori. Doctors usually prescribe combination of drugs to treat the infection. Usually two types of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors that reduce the acid secretion are used. The treatment has to be given for 7 to 14 days. In most cases the success of eradicating H pylori is 90%. Recurrence can occur in few cases. For a good success of treatment, it is necessary on the part of the patient to follow the instruction and prescribed medication properly.
Together with treatment, following some of the natural ways and preventing measures is found to be very useful.
- Do not share drinking glass or dining utensils since the bacteria is known to spread from the saliva of one person to another.
- Wash your hands with soap and water. Especially it is important to wash the hands before eating.
- Avoid eating contaminated food and water. Always drink boiled water.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is known to delay the healing of peptic ulcers.
- Avoid spicy food and too heavy food.