If you’ve never heard of ‘H. pylori’ before, you aren’t alone. Although this common bacteria exists in most people’s bodies, very few people know what it is, or how it affects your body. H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can infect your stomach or the first part of your small intestines. It attacks your stomach lining and can cause redness, inflammation, and ulcers.
What is H. pylori?
H. pylori works by making your stomach less acidic. With less acid in your stomach, the lining weakens, and your stomach cells can become damaged. Once this occurs, your stomach starts to produce too much acid, which damages the walls of your stomach and lets ulcers develop.
Experts aren’t completely certain what causes H. Pylori. Some of the strongest theories include contaminated water and food that wasn’t cleaned or prepared properly. Once the bacteria form, they can also be spread person-to-person through mouth contact, like kissing.
H. pylori is a very common bacteria, and most people who develop it won’t have any symptoms or issues. However, there are some risk factors that can make you more likely to have issues with it. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop issues because of H. pylori. Studies also show that individuals who are Black, Latino, or Eastern European are also more susceptible to the bacteria.
Symptoms & Treatment
If H. pylori damages your stomach, there are a variety of symptoms you might experience. The primary symptom is gastritis, also known as redness and swelling in the stomach. Other symptoms usually appear once ulcers develop. These include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, swelling, bloating, or excessive burping.
If you are experiencing these symptoms your provider may perform a simple blood test to check for an infection. Other tests include taking and testing a stool sample, or a breathing test. The breathing test measures carbon in your breath which is a sign of H. pylori.
Thankfully H. pylori is simple to treat, and you’ll likely have several options depending on the severity of your symptoms. The first step is usually antibiotics used to clear up the H. pylori infection. Your provider may also give you medicines to help control stomach acid production while you recover, or to protect the lining of your stomach.
H. pylori is a type of bacteria that is very common in the human body. If you happen to develop an infection, your body will send you clear signs. If you start experiencing any of the above symptoms, talk to your provider. H. pylori is easy to diagnose, and even easier to treat! Talk to your provider today, and start feeling better!