Understanding H. Pylori Infections

Understanding H. Pylori Infections
  1. pylori stands for Helicobacter pylori, and it’s a spiral-shaped bacterium that grows in the digestive tract and can live in the lining of your stomach. For most people, they become infected during childhood and will live their life with minimal to no symptoms. But for others, an H. pylori infection can cause serious issues, such as stomach ulcers and more.
  2. Pylori is a bacterium that can cause peptic ulcer disease and gastritis. It mostly occurs in children. Only 20% of those infected have symptoms. Symptoms include dull or burning stomach pain, unexplained weight loss and bloody vomit. H-pylori ulcers are commonly treated with combinations of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors.

For how common this bacterial infection is, many people have never even heard of it. 

All About H. Pylori

  1. pylori was discovered in 1982 and infects approximately two-thirds of the world’s population. It’s more common in African Americans, Hispanics, older adults, and people of lower socioeconomic status, according to the CDC. According to the CDC the infection can cause gastritis, stomach ulcers, and gastric cancer. It is reported that, “infected persons have a 2- to 6-fold increased risk of developing gastric cancer and mucosa-associated lymphoid type (MALT) lymphoma compared with their uninfected counterparts.”

The bacteria are able to not only survive, but also thrive in the unwelcoming stomach environment. The bacteria change the environment around it and reduce its acidity so it can survive. Their spiral shape makes it easy for them to push through the stomach lining, where they are protected by the mucus from the body’s immune system cells.

How H. Pylori Spreads

Experts are not entirely sure how H. pylori is spread among people. They believe that it is spread from mouth-to-mouth. It may also spread from feces to the mouth, reports the CDC. This type of spreading can happen when someone doesn’t wash their hands properly after using the bathroom and then touches food or other surfaces.

To prevent the spread of H. Pylori, make sure you wash your hands before you eat and after you use the washroom. You should clean your fresh produce before eating and only drink clean water. You may not be able to completely avoid an H. pylori infection, but by taking simple precautions, you will greatly decrease your chances.

  1. Pylori Symptoms

At Triborough GI we know that one of the many problems with H. pylori is that its symptoms range from nonexistent to severe. You can be infected, not even know it, and spread the infection to others. For those that do have symptoms, they may include pain in the upper stomach area. This pain is often described as burning and worsens at nighttime or when the sufferer has an empty stomach. 

Some other symptoms can be related to other ailments this bacteria causes, such as gastritis and even cancer. Talk to your doctor at Triborough GI if you experience stomach pain and swelling, nausea, loss of appetite, indigestion, or vomiting. These are all tell-tale signs that you may have an H. pylori infection that is causing serious issues to your body.

Risk Factors for H. Pylori Infection

Your risk factors for developing a H. pylori infection will depend upon where you live, your age, and other factors. It is said that children are at higher risk for becoming infected, likely because of their poor hand hygiene. Another huge risk factor is poor living conditions, such as overcrowding, no access to hot water, and living with others who have H. pylori.

For many years, healthcare professionals thought that peptic ulcers were caused by eating spicy foods and stress. It turns out 10-percent of people with H. pylori will develop a peptic ulcer. The source also states that “long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also increases your risk of getting a peptic ulcer.”

Diagnosing H. Pylori

If you suspect that you have an H. pylori infection, it’s time to talk to your doctor to get diagnosed. There are a few diagnostic tests your doctor may use to determine if you have the bacterial infection. To begin, your doctor will likely ask you some questions to learn more about your health history and perform a physical exam. They may look for bloating, tenderness, or abdominal pain.

Once your doctor at Triborough GI has gone over the basic exam he or she will decide if further testing is necessary. This can include a blood test to look for antibodies against H. pylori, stool testing, breath test, or even an endoscopy. You and your doctor will talk about the benefits and risks of each test and determine what route is best for your situation.

 

How is Helicobacter pylori treated?

Triple therapy is used to treat H. pylori. It usually consists of two antibiotics, Amoxicillin and Clarithromycin, to prevent the bacteria from developing resistance to one specific antibiotic, together with acid-suppressing drugs such as proton pump inhibitors. The antibiotics take care of the bacteria, while the proton pump inhibitors give your stomach time to heal.

Triborough GI has the top NYC gastroenterologists in Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx. Our doctors provide only the most specialized and extensive care for H. Pylori. Our motto is that the patient’s care comes first! Highly reputable and top-rated in NYC, our gastroenterologists will thoroughly examine, diagnose and treat you in any way they can. 

 

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