H. pylori or Helicobacter pylori bacteria is a spiral-shaped bacterium that can live in the stomach because it is highly compatible with its acidic environment. The ability of H. pylori bacteria to penetrate your stomach lining makes it difficult for the body’s immune cells to reach them. H. pylori can live protected in the stomach for years with the person infected unaware that they have it. A reason why most people who have it are unaware of is that it is possible to not get sick from it. H. pylori is usually caught in childhood and can cause gastrointestinal problems in adulthood, which is when most patients find out that they have it in their system. It is estimated that H. pylori may be present in the stomachs of more than half of the world’s population.
H. pylori may be caught from the person-to-person transmission when a person makes contact with a person’s saliva, vomit, or fecal matter (possibly in food or drink) that contains H. pylori. The bacterial infection is common in developing countries with a lack of access to basic hygienic practices and clean water. Living with someone who has H. pylori is a risk factor for the condition.
It is entirely possible to not have symptoms even with an H. pylori infection, however, there are risks associated with it. H. pylori is a common cause of peptic ulcers, and it is when patients infected develop peptic ulcer symptoms and seek medical treatment that they find out they have H. pylori. However, some people do experience symptoms of H. pylori, which include abdominal pain (especially when the stomach is empty), loss of appetite, frequent burping, abdominal bloating, and unexplained weight loss.
Treatment of H. pylori infection includes a course of antibiotics and acid-suppressing drugs to let your stomach lining heal. With the immune cells unable to reach and destroy the H. pylori bacteria, stomach problems can develop after many years. It may not cause symptoms in all cases, but H. pylori can irritate the stomach and cause inflammation and damage to its protective lining. A damaged stomach lining can result in stomach ulcers or open sores. H. pylori infection is also a risk factor for stomach cancer.
It is important to see a doctor if you are experiencing possible symptoms of a H. pylori infection. With proper treatment, you can experience relief from symptoms and have a reduced risk of complications associated with H. pylori infections.
Gastroenterologist in Carlisle, PA
Our board-certified gastroenterologists and medical staff at Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates provide patients a superior patient experience in our facility. With our combined expertise, we will find out the root cause of your digestive symptoms and recommend the most effective treatment for relief and restoration of normal digestive function. A breath, blood, or stool test can reveal the presence of H. pylori, which we perform in our world-class endoscopy center. Our treatments are highly individualized for long-term success.
To schedule an appointment with any of our gastroenterologists, call (717) 245-2228 or use our convenient online request form. Our friendly team looks forward to providing you with the most excellent service.