Helicobacter Pylori Gastritis
H pylori is one of the most common bacterial infections in the world with some estimates suggesting that as much of half of the world’s population is infected with this bacterium.
Gastritis literally just means stomach illness or inflammation and does not specifically refer to Helicobacter pylori gastritis.
Just because you have gastritis does not necessarily mean you are infected with H pylori. Likewise, you can be infected with H pylori but not have gastritis. Only testing can conclude one way or another cause of gastritis.
H Pylori Gastritis Symptoms
Note that most people experience no significant symptoms as a result of H pylori infection. Out of the H pylori infections that are noticeable, the most common symptom is H pylori gastritis. This is characterized by general nausea, stomach pain, and indigestion.
More serious cases can develop into ulcers which may lead to symptoms such as burning stomach pain (which peaks at night or early in the morning) as well as bleeding (signified by dark colored stool or vomit).
If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor for evaluation. Testing for H pylori is fairly inexpensive, non-invasive, and quite reliable.
Cause of H Pylori Gastritis
The Helicobacter pylori bacterium lives in the stomach. In order to escape the harsh conditions of the digestive tract, it burrows itself into the lining of the stomach. This weakens the protective coat of the stomach and small intestine.
Due to this weakening, the stomach gets irritated by the acid and digestive enzymes and as a result, inflammation and discomfort appear. This is commonly called H pylori gastritis.
However, gastritis alone is not necessarily caused by H pylori and can result from one of many bacterial infections and even from a simple food allergy. Only by testing can Helicobacter pylori gastritis be confirmed.
Other Causes of Gastritis
As mentioned above, most people with H pylori do not know that they have it. Without testing, there is no way to know for sure what the exact cause of gastritis is.
For example, it is estimated that more and more people are developing allergies to common foods such as gluten, tree nuts, peanuts, and lactose. Consuming any of these could cause gastritis in sensitive populations.
Additionally, various other infections could cause gastritis and even stress or acid reflux can cause indigestion. However, stress does not necessarily lead to ulcers as almost everyone who ends up with a stomach ulcer has H pylori (despite what you may have heard).
The Dangers of H Pylori Gastritis
The real problem of H pylori gastritis is that H pylori leads to stomach ulcers and sometimes even cancer. Most people actually have no noticeable symptoms when infected with H pylori and do not notice anything until stomach ulcer symptoms begin to present themselves.
Treating H pylori successfully is necessary to reduce the increased risk of getting cancer and ulcers. This is typically via medication such as triple therapy or sequential therapy.
Different doctors have different approaches and your specific treatment options depend on your medical history, so do not take it upon yourself to self-medicate for this condition.
H Pylori Gastritis Treatment
As a result, getting treatment for Helicobacter pylori gastritis is important. This is typically a combination of several antibiotics and a proton-pump inhibitor.
Helicobacter pylori gastritis is frequently chronic, so even after using medication patients are often recommended to get a follow-up test one to three months after their treatment. This is because H pylori has become resistant to typical treatments and frequently is just supressed by medication rather than eradicated.