You may have heard about H. pylori infections. If you have no idea what is H. pylori, then this article is going to enlighten you.
H. pylori or Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that resides in the stomach of about half the human population. This bacterium is helix-shaped and measures about 0.3 micrometers long with a diameter of 0.5 micrometers. The long thread- like appendages (flagella) of the bacterium helps it to attach to the mucous lining of the stomach.
Helicobacter pylori bacteria are known to cause inflammation of the gastric lining that can cause development of peptic ulcers, stomach cancer, gastritis and dyspepsia. Not everyone with H. pylori bacteria develops infection. Several people don’t get infected with any of the aforementioned conditions. Common symptoms of the H. pylori infection are pain in the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, acidity, dark stools and loss of appetite.
H. pylori bacteria cause damage to the protective lining of duodenum and stomach. The infection leads to release of certain toxins and enzymes that cause injury to cells of the stomach and duodenum. These changes cause stomach and duodenum to become more susceptible to damage by gastric acids and juices.
The Helicobacter pylori bacteria have become uncommon in most developed countries but continue to be prevalent in developing countries. Approximately 10% children and 80% of the adults in developing countries are infected with H. pylori but don’t show any symptoms.
Scientists believe that H. pylori infection could be contagious because in some cases it seems to run in the families and research suggests that it can pass from one person to another, though the exact mode of transmission is not known. It has been suggested that the H. pylori infection spreads via contaminated food or utensils.
The good news is that the infection can be easily detected using several diagnostic tools and be effectively treated.