Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori): Why You Do NOT Want This Infection in the Stomach by Gastro MD
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are harmful bacteria that can cause an infection in the stomach or first part of the small intestine – and it’s present in more than half the world’s population.
Why do you care?
H. pylori are nasty bacteria that multiply in the mucus layer of the stomach lining and intestines, eating into the stomach tissue. The damage to the stomach tissue can lead to peptic ulcers and gastritis, which can be uncomfortable and painful.
Though extremely rare, an H. pylori infection can also lead to stomach cancer if left untreated. In addition, patients who have a strong family history of stomach cancer and become infected also have an increased risk of developing stomach cancer later in life.
How Would I Get H. Pylori?
H. pylori is spread in various ways, including person-to-person contact. Because the bacteria can be found in saliva and plaque on teeth, the infection can be spread through kissing.
The bacteria can also be found in stool. Therefore, a person who doesn’t practice good bathroom hygiene may transfer the bacteria into any food they prepare, contaminating it and exposing the bacteria to anyone who eats it.
Experts also believe that H. pylori may spread through contaminated water.
What Are the Symptoms of H. Pylori?
The good news is that many people with the H. pylori infection never get sick from it and, therefore, never realize they have it. It’s not clear why some people resist the harmful effects of the condition.
Visible signs and symptoms of H. pylori are caused by gastritis and peptic ulcers that may result from the bacteria eating away at stomach tissue. They include:
- dull stomach pain
- burning stomach pain
- unexplained weight loss
- bloody vomit
- loss of appetite
- dark stools
Is it Time to See a Doctor?
The physical conditions that an H. pylori infection causes, such as gastritis and peptic ulcer, can lead to persistent symptoms when left untreated for too long. It’s time to see a doctor if you experience the following:
- bloody stool
- black tar-like stool
- persistent abdominal pain
- bloody vomit
- black vomit that resembles coffee grounds
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