Helicobacter Pylori – Diagnosis, Symptoms and Treatment

Helicobacter Pylori

or H Pylori as it is commonly known is a bacterium which has been identified to be the cause of stomach ulcers and can even lead to cancer if untreated.

In the United States, 30% of the adult population is infected

. In poorer countries with improper sanitation facilities the number can be even higher. H Pylori is mostly found in the stomach lining (protective layer on the stomach walls), stomach or duodenum.

What Diseases can Helicobacter Pylori Cause?

  • Duodenal ulcer
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Chronic gastritis
  • Stomach ulcer
  • A rare form of lymphatic (of that comprising the vessels and nodes carrying a clear fluid called lymph) tumor of the stomach called MALT Lymphoma.

Symptoms of H Pylori Infection

  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Persistent indigestion and acid reflux
  • Flatulence, bloating and irritable bowel symptoms
  • Vomiting tendency or mild nausea
  • Increased or reduced appetite
  • Unexplained anemia
  • Black stools indicating intestinal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vomit having blood

How is H-Pylori Detected?

It is detected by the following diagnostic tests:

  • Blood Antibody Test

    – Looking for antibodies (specific proteins) in the blood sample.

  • Urea Breath Test

    – A capsule having a small amount of radioactive (which emits radiation) urea is ingested. H-Pylori breaks down the chemical urea and eliminate carbon dioxide in the process. A breath test after some time having traces of radioactive carbon dioxide confirms the presence of infection.

  • Endoscopy

    – A small probe (viewing tube) is inserted into the stomach via the esophagus to get an accurate picture of the digestive tract and any damages to it. A small tissue sample from the stomach wall is taken out and tested .This is called Biopsy and can detect the infection most definitively.

  • Stool Test

    – The presence of the H Pylori antibody in the stool sample indicates infection.

Treatment and Eradication of Helicobacter Pylori

H Pylori is treated with strong antibiotics or a combination of antibiotics like Clarithromycin (Biaxin), Amoxcicillin, tetracycline or metronidazole. However, an individual could be resistant to particular antibiotics and they might not work.

This happens especially when infections happened in the past and hasn’t been completely eradicated.
It is also treated with Proton Pump Inhibitors like Omeprazole (Prilosec) and common antacids like Pepto Bismol which is nothing but Bismuth Subsalicylate compounds.

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