Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is the name of a bacteria that causes low grade inflammation in the stomach and the duodenum. It resides in the stomach of human beings, where it eats away into the lining of the stomach and causes the inflammation. It is mostly associated with gastritis and gastric ulcers. In fact, it has also been found that those infected with this bacterium have a greater risk of developing stomach cancer and lymphoma.
About 50% of the world’s population is infected by this bacterium. However, 80% of those infected exhibit no symptoms at all.
Causes of Helicobacter Pylori Infection
The exact cause of H. pylori infection is not yet known. But it is believed that this bacterial infection spreads amongst human beings if a person comes in contact with contaminated saliva. Infected food handlers can spread this infection if they unknowingly handle food with their infected hands.
The h pylori bacteria can also spread if a healthy individual comes in contact with infected feces. This aptly explains the findings that this infection occurs most in the socio-economically backward countries of the world, where the poor do not have access to proper sanitation facilities, clean and safe drinking water, and there is some lack of awareness about general health and hygiene issues.
Most people carrying this bacterium in their stomach are infected in their childhood.
Treatment of Helicobacter Pylori Infection
A multi-pronged treatment methodology is followed to treat this infection. Physicians first try to remove the bacterium from the stomach by prescribing an antibiotic treatment. Usually, this treatment lasts two weeks where the patient has to take a combination of tetracycline, metronidazole, and clarithromycin group of drugs.
Along with prescribing medication that removes the bacterium, physicians also recommend drugs that reduce the levels of acid being secreted in the stomach. Proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole and lansoprazole and H2 blockers like famotidine and ranitidine are generally prescribed. However, these lines of treatment are modified on specific instances, like when the patient is allergic to penicillin.
Doctors recommend a bismuth therapy if the initial doses of antibiotics fail to produce the desired results. This is mostly the case with patients who have strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their stomach.
Doctors also recommend behavioral modification treatment measures to H. pylori infected patients. They are advised not to smoke, avoid alcohol, and take medicines like aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen only if prescribed by a physician.
Awareness about H. pylori infection helps prevent it or aid the treatment procedure.