H. pylori bacteria are capable of causing peptic ulcers – sores on the stomach lining. Peptic ulcers are not uncommon. Each year in the USA, around half a million individuals develop an ulcer of this kind.
Infection with H. pylori is common, particularly in developing countries. The bacteria usually invade the body in childhood but do not cause any symptoms until adulthood. Some individuals infected with H. pylori fail to show any symptoms at all.
How Does H. Pylori Cause Ulcers?
H. pylori cause peptic ulcers by damaging to the protective mucous coating in the stomach. When damage occurs to this mucous coating, stomach acid is able to reach the sensitive lining beneath. The stomach acid and bacteria irritate the lining of the stomach and cause an ulcer. However, not all individuals infected with H. pylori develop ulcers.
How Is H. Pylori Transmitted?
Scientists are uncertain as to the way in which H. pylori are transmitted, but they believe that contaminated food or water may be responsible. Individuals may pick up H. pylori from unwashed or uncooked food and from drinking water that has derived from an unclean source. Studies have also suggested that individuals who come into contact with the feces or vomit of an infected individual may be at an increased risk of contracting H. pylori.
Can Medicines Treat H. Pylori?
Peptic ulcers that are caused by H. pylori can be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotic regimens differ across the world as certain strains of H. pylori have developed a resistance to specific types of antibiotics. Medicines that reduce the amount of stomach acid produced are also used to treat the condition.
Can H Plyori Return After Treatment?
While antibiotics are able to cure between 80% and 90% of ulcers caused as a result of H. pylori infection, eliminating H. pylori can prove difficult. Following treatment, doctors re-test a patient to determine whether they have been cured of their H. pylori infection. If the infection remains in the body, ulcers may recur. Thus, some individuals require another course of medication.
To help to prevent a return of H. pylori, doctors advise their patients to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water following using the bathroom and before preparing or eating meals, to consume only food that has been adequately washed and properly cooked, and to drink water from safe sources.
Individuals should aim to follow a healthy, balanced diet following receiving treatment for H. pylori. A diet containing an abundance of fruits and vegetables can aid an individual in remaining healthy. All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed before consumption. While spicy foods and alcohol do not cause ulcers, they can worsen ulcers and prevent their natural healing. People who have suffered from a peptic ulcer may find that their stomachs are more sensitive following receiving treatment. They must therefore discover the combinations of foods that work well for them in order to avoid stomach irritation.
Anyone who is concerned that their H. pylori infection may not have cleared up following receiving a course of medical treatment should consult with their doctor for further advice.