H. pylori, or Helicobacter pylori, is a bacterium that may lodge in the stomach or intestine and can cause damage to the protective lining, stimulating inflammation and possibly causing symptoms such as abdominal pain and burning sensation, increasing the risk of developing ulcers and cancer.
This bacterium is usually identified in an endoscopy, through a biopsy or a urease test, which are the most common methods for its detection.
Omeprazole, clarithromycin, and amoxicillin, as prescribed by the general practitioner or gastroenterologist, are also recommended. It’s also very important to follow a diet based on vegetables and white meats to help to relieve the symptoms of gastritis. Sauces, seasonings, and industrialized foods should also be avoided.
How to identify and diagnose
It is very common to have an infection caused by this bacterium without the presence of symptoms. However, it can destroy the natural lining that protects the inner walls of the stomach and intestine, which are affected by gastric acid, in addition to increasing the inflammation of the tissues in this area. This causes symptoms such as:
- Pain or burning sensation in the stomach;
- Lack of appetite;
- Stools with blood and anemia, as a result of the erosion of the walls of the stomach.
The diagnosis of the presence of H. pylori 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
Infection with H. pylori bacteria is very common; there is evidence that it can be caught through saliva or oral contact with water and food that has come into contact with contaminated feces, but its transmission has not yet been fully clarified.
So, to prevent this 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.
How to treat the infection
It is very common to have the H. pylori bacteria without symptoms and it is often found in a routine test. However, the treatment is 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.
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 cure H. pylori is the combination of medication to shield the stomach lining, such as omeprazole 20mg, Ianzoprazole 30mg, pantoprazole 40mg, or rabeprazole 20mg, 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 during a period of 7 to 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.
There are home-based 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.