Symptoms

Helicobacter Pylori

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium commonly found in the stomach lining and is a major cause of peptic ulcers and gastritis. It can also increase the risk of developing stomach cancer. It is frequently picked up in childhood when living in close living conditions.

Symptoms:

Most individuals infected with *H. pylori* do not exhibit symptoms.

When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Persistent stomach pain, often described as a burning sensation in the abdomen
  • Nausea or frequent upset stomach
  • Bloating and excessive burping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Heartburn

Severe cases can lead to complications such as gastric ulcers, presenting with more severe symptoms including vomiting, sometimes with blood, and dark, tarry stools.

Diagnosis:

Diagnosis is typically confirmed through one or more of the following tests:

  • Breath test
  • Blood test will tell if a patient has had a past or present infection
  • Stool antigen test is generally reasonably accurate
  • Endoscopy with biopsies is the best test

Treatment:

Treatment generally involves a combination of medications to ensure effective eradication and is known as triple therapy:

  • A course of two different antibiotics to kill the bacteria (commonly amoxicillin and clarithromycin)
  • A proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to reduce stomach acid production (such as omeprazole)
  • Treatment duration usually extends over 7 to 14 days.
  • Follow-up testing is important after treatment to confirm eradication of the bacterium.
  • Lifestyle adjustments, such as avoiding irritants like NSAIDs, alcohol, and smoking, are recommended to enhance recovery and prevent recurrence.

Prevention:

  • Good hygiene practices, including thorough handwashing and proper food preparation, can help prevent cross infection.

Effective management and treatment of *H. pylori* infections can significantly reduce symptoms and prevent complications. If symptoms persist or recur, gastroenterological evaluation should be sought.

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