Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori is a spiral-shaped bacteria. These bacteria can enter the stomach and cause an infection known as an H. pylori infection. It is a common type of infection, but since H. pylori symptoms do not always manifest, you may have the infection and not know about it.
The common H. pylori symptoms include gnawing stomach pain, burning pain in the stomach, frequent burping, nausea, and vomiting. The treatment may involve the use of two antibiotics and possibly another medicine to heal the stomach lining.
The exact cause of an H. pylori infection is not known. But it can easily spread from one person to another through saliva, feces, and vomit. Contaminated water or food may also spread the germs.
Most people contract an H. pylori infection during their childhood. Some risk factors may include –
- No access to clean drinking water.
- Crowded or unhygienic living conditions.
- Living with a person with an H. pylori infection.
An H. pylori infection can cause some serious health damage. Possible complications can be –
- Gastritis – This infection can cause irritation inside the stomach. It can lead to inflammation or gastritis.
- Peptic ulcers – Stomach contains acid or digestive juices. When H. pylori damage the stomach’s protective lining, the acid can create ulcers or open sores inside. These ulcers can form inside the stomach, the lower part of the esophagus and the upper portion of the small intestine. The sores can even develop years after the infection first occurred.
- Cancer – Stomach cancer is a possibility due to an H. pylori infection but it is very rare.
- Internal bleeding – It can occur if an ulcer causes damage to a blood vessel.
- Obstruction – Ulcers can block the passage of food in the stomach.
It is possible to treat an H. pylori infection with timely treatment. As soon as the H. pylori symptoms manifest, consult a doctor.
If you notice the H. pylori symptoms becoming worse, contact your doctor immediately. The worsening of symptoms may present as persistent pain in the abdomen, bloody stools and vomit and difficulty in swallowing.