Helicobacter pylori bacterium
Helicobacter pylori are spiral shaped, gram negative bacteria that grow in the digestive tract and attack the stomach lining. This bacterium is causes ulcers of the stomach and small intestine.
- pylori are extremely resilient and adaptive. They are specially adapted to survive the acidic environment of the stomach. These bacteria can even alter the natural environment of the stomach around them to reduce its acidity in order to thrive. The unique shape of the bacteria allows them to easily penetrate the stomach lining. As they do so, they become safe from the immune system, protected by the mucus. Hence, the immune system cannot reach them to cause any harm. Thus these bacteria can interfere with the immune system’s response to an infection, thereby ensuring their sustained survival. This can lead to stomach infections, pain and other problems.
Helicobacter pylori infection does not show any visible symptoms in its early stages. It is only when the infection leads to an ulcer, symptoms start exhibiting. It causes extreme pain, especially after a few hours of a meal when the stomach is empty. The pain usually affects intermittently. Consuming food or taking antacids drugs may relieve this pain.
There can be a number of other symptoms commonly seen in case of Helicobacter pylori infection which are as follows.
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Flatulence and discomfort
- Foul breath
These symptoms are very common and can be the result of various other conditions as well. However if they persist beyond the normal time frame or cause excessive pain and discomfort, it is important to consult a doctor right away. The presence of blood in the stool or vomit
Although Helicobacter pylori does not cause direct complications, but the ulcers which it causes can lead to internal bleeding, obstruction of the passage of food, perforation of the stomach wall and even peritonitis. It also increases the chance of stomach cancer.
Helicobacter pylori infection can be treated using antibiotics. Sometimes a combination of two or more is necessary to contain resilient infections. Regular administration of antacids to prevent acidity might also be required.