Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that infects the stomach, causing ulcers. It does so by penetrating the stomach’s mucus lining, which most other bacteria cannot do. Australian doctors discovered this bacterium in 1982. Traditional medical doctrine asserted that the causes of ulcers were stress and acidic or spicy foods. The 1982 discovery of H. pylori and its link to ulcers was a major medical breakthrough.
Causes of H. Pylori
Medical science has only come so far in the few decades since the discovery of this bacterium. As with all bacteria, the only way to get it is through the transmission. Doctors do not yet fully understand the specific pathways that lead to infection. As the bacterium infects the stomach lining, the most probable cause of infection is through contact with the mucus of the stomach lining. This could be through vomit or fecal matter. There is also reason to believe that direct saliva contact can spread the bacterium.
Transmission is most common among families living in the same home. Crowded living conditions are a significant risk factor for H. Pylori. There is also evidence that the bacterium can spread through tainted water supplies. Communities without access to clean water are at high risk. Stomach ulcers are most common in developing countries, where crowded conditions and low water quality are common.
Symptoms of H. Pylori
H. Pylori is the cause of peptic ulcers. While doctors had previously thought the cause behind ulcers was stress and diet, we know now that H. Pylori is to blame. When the bacterium damages the protective lining of the stomach, the stomach wall is exposed to stomach acid. This leads to open sores called ulcers.
These ulcers cause burning pain inside the stomach whenever food is not being digested, in-between meals, or at night. Eating or taking an antacid tablet can temporarily relieve this pain. Ulcers also cause bloating, heartburn, and can lead to nausea and vomiting. Additional complications include inflation of the stomach lining and an increased risk of developing stomach cancer.
Although stomach ulcers can heal on their own eventually, they can also lead to more severe issues. An untreated ulcer can cause stomach bleeding, perforation of the stomach wall, and obstruction due to swelling. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of H. Pylori should seek treatment.
Ulcers that have begun bleeding must be treated quickly. There are medications that doctors inject directly into the ulcer during endoscopy. Severe cases could require either clamping or cauterization to stop bleeding rapidly.
There are several medications for less-severe cases. Proton pump inhibitors are a class of drugs that reduce the level of acid inside the stomach. This gives the ulcers time to heal on their own. Histamine receptor blockers also reduce stomach acid levels to allow ulcers to heal. Antibiotics are often effective against stomach ulcers, as they kill the bacteria. There are also protective medications and supplements, like PYLO-X, that help form additional protective layers on the stomach wall to stop stomach acid from causing ulcers.