H. Pylori (also called Helicobacter Pylori) is a specific bacteria that can cause infection of the stomach. This infection can contribute to the development of diseases including dyspepsia, gastritis, and ulcers in the stomach and duodenum.
Click on the statements/questions below to reveal the answers to the causes, symtoms and signs of this particular disease.
H. Pylori is a fragile bacteria with long threads protruding from them that attach to the underlying stomach cells. The mucous layer that protects the stomach cells from acid also protects H. pylori. Although these bacteria don’t actually invade the stomach cells, the infection is very real and causes the body to react. Infection-fighting white blood cells move into the area and the body even develops H. pylori antibodies in the blood.
One of the most common infections worldwide, it probably occurs when an individual swallows the bacteria in food, fluids or perhaps contaminated utensils. It occurs more often in older people, as well as young people in developing countries since the infection tends to be more common where sanitation is poor or living quarters are cramped. In many cases, the infection doesn’t cause any symptoms so people may not be aware they have it. It remains localized to the gastric area and probably persists unless specific treatment is given.
There are three ways to diagnose it:
- The physician removes small bits of tissue and tests it for bacteria.
- Breath test in which urea is given by mouth. A strong enzyme in the bacteria breaks down the urea into carbon dioxide which is exhaled and can be measured.
- Blood test that measures the protein antibodies against these bacteria that are present in the blood. The antibody can indicate a current infection or one that has passed already.
Since the infection is so common, it is sometimes recommended that no treatment be given. However, ongoing research may change this and of course, your physician will address your specific situation. Patients with acute ulcers are sometimes prescribed a combination of acid-reducing medicines and antibiotics.