Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) (cont.)
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What are symptoms of H. pylori infection?
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The majority of people who are infected with H. pylori are symptom and disease free.
For those who do have symptoms, gastritis and ulcers are the results of an H. pylori infection. These illnesses are characterized by:
Abdominal pain is usually described as a burning sensation in the central upper abdomen below the ribs. It may be associated with bloating, burping, and loss of appetite. Often the symptoms occur after eating, and many times patients waken in the early morning hours with abdominal pain.
If there is enough inflammation, bleeding is possible from the stomach lining or from an ulcer, a small crater-like area in which the inflammation has caused the protective lining of the stomach to wear away. Symptoms of bleeding include vomiting blood and passing black, tarry stools. The black stools are a result of blood that has been metabolized and partially digested.
Note: that iron and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol, Pink Bismuth) will also turn the stools black.
What causes H. pylori infection?
While the exact mode of transmission H. pylori is not known, it seems to be spread from person to person by saliva, and most people who are infected become infected as children. It also has the potential to be spread by fecal contamination. This may explain why the rate of infection is so high in poorer countries and in socio-economic groups characterized by crowded living conditions, poor sanitary conditions, and lack of clean water. Personal hygiene is also very important since food preparers who may not perform adequate hand washing may be potential sources of infection.
As mentioned previously, most people who become infected do so in childhood. After being ingested, the bacteria burrow through the protective mucosa that lines the stomach to attach to deeper layers of the stomach, where they can reside for years without causing symptoms.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/12/2016
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