Helicobacter pylori infection is a bacterial infection that results to inflammation of the stomach, peptic ulcer disease and certain forms of cancer affecting the stomach. This type of bacteria is the usual cause of gastritis and peptic ulcer disease globally. The infection is quite common and increases with age.
Helicobacter pylori is present in saliva, stool and plaque on the teeth. The bacteria can also be transmitted from one individual to another particularly if an individual with the bacteria was not able to wash hands properly after bowel movement. The infection can also develop after touching contaminated objects.
It is important to note that the bacteria thrive in the protective mucus layer of the stomach lining where they are less exposed to the acidic stomach juices. In addition, the bacteria produce ammonia which protects it from the stomach acid. Almost all individuals with helicobacter pylori infection have gastritis that can affect the whole stomach or only the lower region. In some cases, it can progress to erosive gastritis and even a stomach ulcer. Additionally, the bacteria contribute to the formation of ulcer by increasing the production of stomach acid which disrupts with the normal defense of the stomach against the acid and generating toxins.
What are the indications?
Many individuals who have gastritis due to helicobacter pylori infection will not end up with symptoms but those who develop symptoms have the usual indications of gastritis such as pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen and indigestion.
The ulcers due to helicobacter pylori infection can trigger symptoms that are comparable to ulcers from other conditions including upper abdominal pain.
How is it diagnosed
Helicobacter pylori infection can be detected using tests that utilize breath, blood or stool samples. Nevertheless, since blood tests usually stay positive for up to 3 years after the infection has cleared up, the breath test is often utilized to confirm if treatment was a success.
Oftentimes, the doctor utilizes an endoscope to acquire a sample of the stomach lining for analysis under a microscope or biopsy.
Management for helicobacter pylori infection
The helicobacter pylori infection should be treated using antibiotics. The commonly used treatment involves a proton pump inhibitor that works by reducing the production of acid along with 2 antibiotics such as clarithromycin and amoxicillin used at 2 times for 14 days.
The combination of bismuth subsalicylate, metronidazole, tetracycline and a proton pump inhibitor is also an alternative. Nevertheless, this treatment necessitates the individual to take up to 4 drugs up to 4 times in a day for 14 days. Individuals who have gastric or duodenal ulcers are given proton pump inhibitors for at least 4 weeks.