As more of the world gets access to clean water and sanitation, fewer people than before are getting the bacteria. With good health habits, you can protect yourself and your children from Helicobacter pylori.
How H. pylori Makes You Sick.
For decades, doctors thought people got ulcers from stress, spicy foods, smoking, or other lifestyle habits. But when scientists discovered Helicobacter pylori in 1982, they found that the germs were the cause of most stomach ulcers.
After H. pylori enters your body, it attacks the lining of your stomach, which usually protects you from the acid your body uses to digest food. Once the bacteria have done enough damage, acid can get through the lining, which leads to ulcers. These may bleed, cause infections, or keep food from moving through your digestive tract.You can get Helicobacter pylori from food, water, or utensils. It’s more common in countries or communities that lack clean water or good sewage systems. You can also pick up the bacteria through contact with the saliva or other body fluids of infected people.
Many people get Helicobacter pylori during childhood, but adults can get it, too. The germs live in the body for years before symptoms start, but most people who have it will never get ulcers. Doctors aren’t sure why only some people get ulcers after an infection.
Symptoms of Helicobacter pylori.
If you have an ulcer, you may feel a dull or burning pain in your belly. It may come and go, but you’ll probably feel it most when your stomach is empty, such as between meals or in the middle of the night. It can last for a few minutes or for hours. You may feel better after you eat, drink milk, or take an antacid.
Other signs of an ulcer include:
- Not feeling hungry
- Weight loss for no clear reason
Ulcers can bleed into your stomach or intestines, which can be dangerous to your health. Get medical help right away if you have any of these symptoms:
It’s not common, but Helicobacter pylori infection can cause stomach cancer. The disease has few symptoms at first, such as heartburn. Over time, you may notice:
- Belly pain or swelling
- Not feeling hungry
- Feeling full after you eat just a small amount
- Weight loss for no reason.
Test the doctors may request.
If you have Helicobacter pylori, your doctor may also test you for stomach cancer. This includes:
- Physical exam
- Blood tests to check for anemia, when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. It could happen if you have a tumor that bleeds.
- Fecal occult blood test, which checks your stool for blood that’s not visible to the naked eye
- Biopsy, when a doctor takes a small piece of tissue from your stomach to look for signs of cancer. Your doctor may do this during an endoscopy.
- Tests that make detailed pictures of the insides of your body, such as a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Doctors can conduct a blood test to see if H. pylori antibodies are present in a person’s blood. However, since antibodies can remain in the body after the bacteria is gone, this may not be the best way to test for an active infection.
Other ways to test for the bacteria includeTrusted Source:
- An urea breath test (UBT), in whuch a person swallows a capsule containing urea and then gives a breath sample after 10–20 minutes. This allows the doctor to see if the bacteria is present in the stomach.
- An endoscopy can help a doctor find the infection, as well as any related ulcers or inflammation.
- A stool sample can also show if a person has antigens for the bacteria on their stoll. This tells the doctor if the person has an active infection.
Helicobacter pylori infection occurs when H. pylori bacteria infect your stomach. H. pylori bacteria are usually passed from person to person through direct contact with saliva, vomit or stool. H. pylori may also be spread through contaminated food or water. The exact way H. pylori bacteria causes gastritis or a peptic ulcer in some people is still unknown.
- Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that infects your stomach.
- It attacks your stomach and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum). This can cause redness and swelling (inflammation).
- Many people with the bacteria won’t have any symptoms.
- It can cause open sores called peptic ulcers in your upper digestive tract.
- It can cause stomach cancer.
- It may be passed or spread from person to person by mouth, such as by kissing. It may also be passed by direct contact with vomit or stool.
- Having good health habits (hygiene) can help protect you.