Helicobacter Pylori Infection; Symptoms and Complications

Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) infection most commonly occurs in stomach. H. Pylori infection most commonly occurs in childhood itself and it is the leading cause of peptic ulcer (peptic ulcer is ulcer in any part of gastrointestinal tract that exposed to gastric acid). H. Pylori infection is very common and estimates suggest that as many as half of world population may be infected by H. Pylori. Most people do not know that they have infection with H. Pylori (although half of world population is affected but we do not get as many patients), as they do not get sick or develop any symptoms due to it and they only realize when they get symptoms of peptic ulcer.

What are the symptoms of H. Pylori infection?

Most people with H. Pylori do not develop any symptoms. However, some people develop symptoms and they are,

  • Burning pain in your abdomen or aching pain in abdomen
  • Abdominal pain (burning or aching pain) worsens when your stomach is empty
  • Bloating, burping
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss

If any of the above symptoms or combination of the above symptoms trouble you, it is time to see a doctor and get tested for H. Pylori infection, because it can be cured with appropriate antibiotic treatment.

How H. Pylori infection occurs?

The exact way of spread of the infection is not clear. However, it may spread by contamination of food and water. The infection may also spread by direct contact with saliva, fecal matter or vomit. However, these are not yet proven beyond doubt.

What are the possible complication of H. Pylori infection?

The complications associated with H. Pylori infection include,

  • Gastric ulcer: this is the most common and troublesome complication of H. Pylori infection. H. Pylori infection damage the protective mucosal lining of stomach as well as some parts of intestine, leading to gastric ulcer and intestinal ulcer (sometimes collectively known as peptic ulcer) by causing a defect/break in the lining mucosa. As many as 10% of individuals with H. Pylori infection can develop gastric ulcer.
  • Gastric cancer: this is another serious complication of H. Pylori infection. Presence of gastric ulcer is a risk factor of gastric ulcer; hence, presence of H. Pylori infection, leading to gastric ulcer is a risk factor for gastric cancer.
  • Gastritis: this is inflammation of gastric mucosa. H. Pylori infection cause irritation of stomach that cause inflammation of stomach (gastritis).

 

Image courtesy of [Ohmega1982] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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1 Comment

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