H. pylori, or Helicobacter pylori, is a type of bacteria that can lodge in the stomach or intestine and cause damage to the protective lining, stimulating inflammation and possibly causing symptoms such as abdominal pain and burning sensation. H. Pylori infection also increases the risk of developing ulcers and cancer.
This type of infection is usually identified through an endoscopy, where the doctor may perform a biopsy or an urease test, which are the most common methods for its detection.
Omeprazole, clarithromycin, and amoxicillin, are the main types of medication prescribed for the treatment of H. Pylori, but it is also important to follow a diet based on vegetables and white meats to help to relieve the symptoms. Sauces, seasonings, and industrialized foods should also be avoided. Learn more about what to eat and what to avoid.
It is very common to have an H. Pylori infection without presenting any symptoms. However, since this type of bacteria can destroy the natural lining that protects the inner walls of the stomach and intestine, some symptoms may appear over time:
- Pain or burning sensation in the stomach;
- Lack of appetite;
- Very dark stools or stools with blood.
The diagnosis of H. pylori infection is usually done through a biopsy, with the collection of tissue from the stomach or duodenum, with which bacterial detection tests such as the urease test, culture, or tissue evaluation can be done.
Other possible tests are the urea breath test, blood serology test, or fecal detection test.
How is it transmitted
H. pylori infection is fairly common; there is evidence that it can be transmitted through saliva or oral contact with water or food that has come into contact with contaminated feces, but its transmission has not yet been fully clarified.
So, to prevent this type infection, it is very important to follow careful hygiene practices, such as washing your hands before eating and after going to the bathroom, and avoiding the sharing of cutlery and glasses with other people.
Treatment for H. Pylori infection is usually only indicated in the presence of some situations, such as:
- Peptic ulcer;
- Intestinal carcinoma, or gastric lymphoma;
- Symptoms, such as discomfort, burning or stomach pain;
- Family history of gastric cancer.
Therefore, if the bacteria isn't causing any type of problem, chances are that treatment is not necessary. This is because the unnecessary use of antibiotics increases the chances of bacteria resistance and causes side effects.
Medication to treat H. pylori
The most commonly prescribed medication to treat H. pylori infection is the combination of proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole, Ianzoprazole, pantoprazole, or rabeprazole, with antibiotics, usually clarithromycin 500mg, amoxicillin 1000mg, or metronidazole 500mg, which can be used separately or as a combination pill, such as Pyloripac.
This treatment should be done for a period of 7 - 14 days, twice a day, or according to medical guidance, and must be followed strictly to avoid the development of drug resistant bacteria.
Other antibiotic options that can be used in cases of treatment-resistant infections are bismuth subsalicylate, tetracycline, tinidazole, or levofloxacin.
Natural treatment options
There are some natural alternatives that can complement medication treatment as they help control stomach symptoms and control the spread of bacteria, but they do not replace medical treatment.
The consumption of zinc-rich foods such as oysters, meats, wheat germ, and whole grains, for example, in addition to strengthening the immune system, facilitate the healing of ulcers and decrease inflammation in the stomach.
The foods that can help eliminate bacteria in the stomach are natural yogurt, because it is rich in probiotics, or thyme and ginger, because they have antibacterial properties that can also be a great way to help the treatment.
There are also foods that may help to control acidity and lessen the discomfort caused by gastritis, such as bananas and potatoes.