And, if you have it, you may not know it.
Currently H. pylori is recognized as being associated with the cause of ulcers of the stomach, in the beginning of the upper intestine, and esophagus. Even though H. pylori was discovered in 1982. It wasn’t until Robin Warren and Barry Marshall won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2005 that showed H. pylori to be the cause of ulcers. It is found in 90 percent of peptic ulcers.
Symptoms are usually associated with problems such as weight loss, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, heartburn, bad breath, diarrhea, bloating, burping, nausea, black stools, and vomiting. Or there may be no symptoms at all. Or there may be no ulcer present.
Please, consult your health care provider regarding any health concerns you may have.
What can H. pylori cause if not addressed?
Not only has the presence of H. pylori been associated with the cause of most peptic ulcers, it has been associated with an increase in risk of stomach cancer. In addition, some practitioners have associated H. pylori with malabsorption of key nutrients leading to anemia, fatigue and other conditions.
Unfortunately, this organism is becoming more common. And as I already mentioned, this organism may or may not be associated with symptoms.
The practitioners that I have worked with have reported to me that the most accurate form of testing is the stool test, even more so than the breath test and blood test. The MayoClinic suggests that the blood test is the least accurate and that the stool and breath test are the most accurate.
I have always used the stool test as I can also test for other gut parasites at the same time.
Treatment involves the use of antibiotics to kill the organism. It can be difficult to treat the organism as it buries itself deep within the stomach wall. In combination with antibiotics, your doctor may prescribe a proton pump inhibitor as well as histamine receptor blockers (2). It is important to discuss any noticed side effects with your doctor when taking the medication. You should be retested following treatment to make sure the infection is no longer found.
How does it spread?
The most common way for this organism to be transmitted is from person to person via mouth-to-mouth and fecal matter-to-oral. So if you are tested and found to be positive for H. pylori then your family members should be tested as well. This organism can be difficult to kill especially if the infection is long standing. The treatment itself can be physically rough. It is suggested to follow up with a health practitioner who is experienced in the treatment of this infection.
Since this post involves the topic of ulcers, I feel it is important to recognize directions from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) that is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NDDIC recognizes the following symptoms associated with peptic ulcers as a Medical Emergency and a person who has any of the following symptoms should call a doctor right away(4):
- sharp, sudden, persistent, and severe stomach pain(4)
- bloody or black stools(4)
- bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds(4)
I hope this information is useful in your persuit to understanding your health. As always, I advise you to continue to learn as much as possible about your health as it affects everything you do and everyone you know.
Yours In Health,
Sean Ripp, D.C.