Helicobacter Pylori bacteria - symptoms and treatment

Helicobacter Pylori bacteria - symptoms and treatment

Helicobacter Pylori - the BACTERIA responsible for much PEPTIC ULCER DISEASE and STOMACH CANCER. Researchers isolated H. pylori in 1982, a discovery that dramatically altered the treatment approach to ulcers. Though researchers do not know how Helicobacter Pylori enter the gastrointestinal system, they believe INFECTION occurs early in life in most people. The bacteria establish themselves in the lining of the STOMACH in the area called the pylorus, and often in the DUODENUM (first segment of the SMALL INTESTINE) as well. The presence of H. pylori causes irritation, which the body counters with an inflammatory response in an attempt to buffer the gastric mucosa from the irritation. Over time this pattern of irritation and INFLAMMATION results in ulcerative erosions of the mucosa, commonly called stomach ulcers.

Symptoms of Helicobacter Pylori and diagnosis

The urea breath test is a simple, accurate, and fast way for doctors to determine whether H. pylori are present. The person drinks a solution or swallows a capsule containing urea tagged with a carbon isotope. H. pylori metabolize the urea, releasing carbon dioxide containing the carbon isotope. A machine analyzes breath samples to detect the presence of carbon isotopes in the carbon dioxide. Endoscopic biopsy, blood tests to detect H. pylori antibodies, and stool tests that detect H. pylori antigens are other methods to diagnose Helicobacter Pylori infection. As well, these tests show whether treatment with ANTIBIOTIC MEDICATIONS has successfully eradicated the bacteria.

Helicobacter Pylori Treatment

Helicobacter Pylori are sensitive to several antibiotics though have the ability to rapidly adapt and develop resistance. For this reason doctors prescribe two kinds of antibiotic medications in combination. Treatment also includes PROTON PUMP INHIBITOR (PPI) MEDICATIONS or H2 ANTAGONIST (BLOCKER) MEDICATIONS to suppress gastric acid production, which makes the stomach a more hostile environment for the H. pylori and reduces irritation to the inflamed tissues or ulcers. H. pylori are also sensitive to the common ANTIDIARRHEAL MEDICATION bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol). There are numerous treatment protocols for eradicating Helicobacter Pylori that use these medications in various combinations. Once eradicated, H. pylori seem not to recur.

See also ANTIBODY; ANTIGEN; CANCER RISK FACTORS; ENDOSCOPY; GASTRITIS.

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The Gastrointestinal System

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