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H. Pylori: treatment, transmission and diagnosis

H. pylori, or Helicobacter pylori, is a bacterium that may lodge in the stomach or intestine and can cause damage to the protective barrier, stimulating inflammation, which may cause symptoms such as abdominal pain and burning sensation, increasing the risk of developing ulcers and cancer.

This bacterium is usually identified during an endoscopy through a biopsy or through a urease test, which are the most common methods for the detection of bacteria.

Omeprazole, Clarithromycin and Amoxicillin, as prescribed by the general practitioner or gastroenterologist, are also recommended. It is very important to follow a diet that may help to relieve the symptoms of gastritis and so it should be based on vegetables, white meats and you should avoid sauces, seasonings and industrialized foods.

H. Pylori: treatment, transmission and diagnosis

How is the treatment done

It is very common to have the H. pylori bacteria without symptoms, often being found in a routine test. However, the treatment is only indicated in the presence of some situations, such as:

  • Peptic ulcer;
  • Gastritis;
  • Intestinal tumor, carcinoma type or gastric lymphoma;
  • Symptoms, such as discomfort, burning or stomach pain;
  • Family history of gastric cancer.

This is because unnecessary use of antibiotics increase the chances of bacteria resistance and causes side effects. See what to eat to avoid these side effects and which foods help to fight H. pylori.

Medication to treat H. pylori

The most commonly prescribed medication to cure H. pylori is the combination of a stomach shield, which may be 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, 2 times 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.

Homemade treatment

There are home-based alternatives that can complement medication treatment as they help control stomach symptoms and control the proliferation 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.

In addition, there are foods that may help to control acidity and lessen the discomfort caused by gastritis, such as bananas and potatoes. See an example of of a diet menu for gastritis and ulcer.

How it is 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 in contact with contaminated feces, but its transmission has not yet been fully clarified.

So to prevent this infection, it is very important to take care of hygiene, such as washing your hands before eating and after going to the bathroom, and avoid dividing cutlery and glasses with other people.

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 barrier that protects the inner walls of the stomach and intestine, which undergo effects of gastric acid, in addition to increasing the inflammation of the tissues in this region. This causes symptoms such as:

  • Pain or burning sensation in the stomach;
  • Lack of appetite;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • 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 made with a biopsy collection of tissue from the stomach or duodenum, with which bacterial detection tests such as the urease test, culture or tissue evaluation can be performed. 

Other possible tests are the urea respiratory detection test, blood serology test or fecal detection test. 

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