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What is Helicobacter pylori? Maybe you already have Helicobacter pylori or peptic ulcer.

What is Helicobacter pylori?

Early diagnose and treatment Helicobacter pylori can save you of a lot of trouble. If you have a peptic ulcer and have not been tested for H. pylori infection you should have test soon as possible.

Helicobacter pylorus is a bacterium that lives in the stomach and duodenum. Helicobacter pylori was discovered in 1982, studies have shown that using antibiotics to destroy H. pylori cures peptic ulcers. Helicobacter pylori infections are usually silent. If left untreated the bacteria can lead to serious digestive illnesses, including peptic ulcer disease, gastritis and even stomach cancer later in life. Diseases associated with Helicobacter pylori are duodenal ulcers, non-ulcer dyspepsia, stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

Helicobacter pylori damage the protective mucous of the stomach and duodenum, which allows acid to get through to the sensitive lining beneath. Helicobacter pylori and acid irritate the lining and cause a sore, or ulcer.

Signs and Symptoms

Helicobacter pylori infections are usually silent and produce no symptoms. Most of people who have infection don’t have any symptoms. When the symptoms are present, those are symptoms of gastritis or peptic ulcer disease. Symptoms of gastritis may include nausea, vomiting, and frequent complaints about pain in the abdomen.  Helicobacter pylori can also cause peptic ulcers. The most common symptom of peptic ulcer disease is a burning pain in the abdomen, usually in the area below the ribs. This pain occurs when someone with ulcers has an empty stomach and despairs when he or she eats food, drinks milk, or takes antacid medicine.

Peptic ulcer disease can cause bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds or stool that's black, bloody, or looks like tar. If you have any of these symptoms (sharp, sudden, persistent stomach pain, bloody or black stools, bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds) you should call your doctor. Any of these symptoms can be sign of perforation, bleeding and obstruction. Take these symptoms very serious and call your doctor.

Is Helicobacter pylori infection contagious?

Some scientists suspect that H. pylori infection may be contagious. H. pylori infection seems to run in families and is more common where people live in unsanitary conditions. But, transmission of the H. pylori infection isn't clearly understood. Some scientists believe that H. pylori is can be transmitted orally. Some researches believe that people can be contracted with H. pylori through food or water.

How is Helicobacter pylori diagnosed?

Diagnostic tests include breath tests, blood tests, stool tests or endoscopy.

Breath tests are usually performed in the morning. You will swallow a capsule, than you provide the breath sample usually by blowing up a small balloon.  Samples of breath are then taken between 10 and 20 minutes after the capsule is given. It is very important that prior to any testing, except the blood test, for H. pylori, you have not taken any antibiotics for a month. Doctor will explain you that before test. The test is quick and simple to perform.
Blood tests check your blood. If antibodies which stick to H. pylori are present, it means either you have H. pylori or have had it in the recent past.
Maybe your gastroenterologist will suggest you endoscopy. To check if you have H. pylori a biopsy can be taken during endoscopy.
The complete endoscopy examination takes 15 minutes. After the test you may not drive a car for the remainder of the day because you may be drowsy. It is also illegal to drive after taking sedative drugs.

Stool tests may be used to detect H. pylori infection. Stool tests called the Helicobacter pylori stool antigen test, is accurate for diagnosing H. pylori.

Helicobacter pylori and duodenal ulcers

Duodenal ulcers occur in the first part of the intestine. H. pylori infection is cause of most duodenal ulc

ers. Duodenal ulcer can be cured by killing Helicobacter pylori. Peptic ulcers are ulcers in the stomach or duodenum. Most common symptoms include: abdominal discomfort which occurs 2 to 3 hours after a meal, weight loss, poor appetite, bloating, nausea and vomiting.

Helicobacter pylori and stomach ulcers

Stomach ulcers have two causes. The most common cause is also H. pylori infection of the stomach. Stomach ulcers are more complicated than duodenal ulcers, but the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment for stomach ulcers is similar to treatment duodenal ulcers.

Treatment

Treatment of Helicobacter pylori is usually simple.  Some people need repeated endoscopies, biopsies, and several courses of treatment with antibiotic drugs. Treatment usually includes a combination of antibiotics, acid lowering drugs, and stomach protectors.

To decide which the best treatment for H. pylori is, it may be necessary to do an endoscopy and take a biopsy.  Treatments for H. pylori infection are antibiotics. If you have H. pylori doctor will prescribe you combination of antibiotics. The antibiotics which are usually recommended are amoxycillin, clarithromycin, tetracycline and metronidazole. Doctor may suggest that you take different antibiotics or higher doses to treat H. pylori infection.  You should tell your doctor if you have allergy on antibiotics. Combinations of antibiotics with the acid lowering drugs eradicate H.pylori. The most effective is two week triple therapy which reduces ulcer symptoms, kills the H. pylori, and prevents ulcer recurrence. The antibiotics used in triple therapy may cause mild side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark stools and other. Some patients may find triple therapy complicated because it involves taking more than 15 pills per day.  If you have symptoms of bleeding from the stomach or small intestine, these symptoms will be treated in a hospital.

Because H. pylori infection can be cured with antibiotics, the most important home treatment is to take any prescribed antibiotic medicine on schedule for as long as your child's doctor has directed. Your doctor may also give antacids or acid-suppressing drugs to neutralize or block production of stomach acids.

Eating five or six smaller meals each day may be best. You should take some time to rest after each meal.

Don’t use Aspirin, Aspirin-containing medicines, ibuprofen, or anti-inflammatory drugs because these may irritate the stomach or cause stomach bleeding.
If therapy fails, your doctor should try another combination of antibiotics.

With prolonged antibiotic therapy, H. pylori gastritis and peptic ulcer disease can often be cured.

After treatment of H. pylori, it is necessary to repeat one of these tests to see H. pylori has been killed. The breath tests or endoscopy with biopsy can be used to prove that the bacterium has been cured.

Can Helicobacter pylori infection be prevented?

Prevention is difficult, because the transmission of the H. pylori infection isn't clearly understood. Some researchers are trying to develop a vaccine to prevent infection. There are some general advices. It is important to wash your hands. Always wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating. You should drink water from a safe source. Food must be properly prepared.