H Pylori Infection
Helicobacter pylori is one of the most prevalent bacteria in our civilized society. In fact, different estimates report that H pylori infection is present in anywhere from 20%-50% of the world’s population.
Below, you will find out how we get this infection, what the symptoms of for Helicobacter pylori infection are, and what the available treatment options are.
Transmission of H Pylori Infection
Despite its prevalence, we still do not have a good idea of how H pylori is transferred from person to person. Like many other gastrointestinal infections, contaminated food and water is the number one suspect.
However, drawing any definitive conclusions about the transmission of H pylori infection from food is not likely to occur any time soon. This is because the symptoms of H pylori range from non-existent to mild and it can take quite a long time to incubate.
In other words, even if a group of people were all to catch a Helicobacter pylori infection from contaminated food at a local restaurant, no one would ever know, because people usually do not realize they are infected until they develop stomach ulcer symptoms.
Advances in the area would be very beneficial for reducing the rate of getting stomach ulcers.
Symptoms of H Pylori Infection
As alluded to earlier, most people have no idea whether they are infected or not until they get an ulcer.
Of those that do have an infection, symptoms tend to resemble gastritis, which is basically generalized upper digestive tract inflammation. This could be burning stomach pain, stomach aches in general, loss of appetite, and general nausea.
In short, it is really hard to tell if you have H pylori based off symptoms alone. Fortunately, testing can be done to check for H pylori infection.
There are several different tests that are frequently done to check for Helicobacter pylori infection. First off, no test is 100% accurate, but among the available test, biopsy and the breath test appear to be the most accurate.
Biopsy involves taking a small tissue sample from the suspected area and examining the cells to check for infection. As you can imagine, it is extremely invasive and usually reserved when there is a suspected ulcer that is resistant to treatment.
Alternatively, a “breath test” can be used, which is a non-invasive test. This involves the patient drinking a fluid and then breathing into a specialized reader.
H pylori digests this fluid and releases a gas during the digestion process. Specialized equipment can then monitor levels of this gas to check for infection. While not 100% accurate, it is improving to the point where it is becoming a regularly used test. This method will only improve as technology gets better.
- For more information on these diagnostic tests and other possible options, see our H pylori test article.
Since H pylori is a bacteria, it can be treated with simple antibiotics – nothing fancy required. Since some strains are resistant, frequently a course two different antibiotics are given at the same time to be safe.
The biggest problem of H pylori is not an acute infection but a chronic one. Chronic infections are what ultimately lead to ulcers and even stomach cancer.
If you are diagnosed with H pylori, consider the following in addition to your prescribed treatment plan:
- Modifying lifestyle factors; try to quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption to improve your digestive health.
- Regularly eat fruits and vegetables; broccoli in particular has been linked to the suppression of H pylori.
- Supplement with vitamin D, vitamin C, and zinc; these three nutrients have been linked to improved function of the immune system.
Remember that these homeopathic remedies are not meant to be a replacement for medical treatment for H pylori infection but rather are a nice addition to help prevent Helicobacter pylori infection from reoccurring.