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April 30 at 6:07 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

H. Pylori Infection: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

By BulkSupplements More Blogs by This Author

What is H. Pylori?

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H. pyloristands forHelicobacter pylori spiral-shaped bacteria that colonizes the stomachs of humans and can cause gastrointestinal problems. Its estimated that between 50 and 80 percent of the worlds population is infected withH. pylori. In the United States, the rates of infection are between 30-40 percent. Despite its prevalence, this bacterium was only identified in 1982. Since then, however, researchers have been able to better understand how it spreads and how to treat it.

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Crowded living areas and poor sanitation create conditions in which this bacteria typically spreads. While the stomach is the main reservoir forH. pylori, saliva, dental plaque, vomit and feces can also contain it. Coming into contact with these bodily fluids through person-to-person contact or ingesting it through contaminated water or food are believed to be the main routes of transmission.

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Infection fromH. pylorican cause no problems at all or can lead to the development of gastriculcersand, less commonly, stomach cancer. People can be cured ofH. pylorithrough medications like antibiotics. Sometimes, however, its not always easy to get rid of. Good hygiene, healthful eating and dietary supplements can help prevent infection or support the body as it heals from the infection.

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Symptoms of H. Pylori

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When the bacteria enters the lining of the stomach and upper intestines (duodenum), it secretes a substance that makes the stomach less acidic. As a result, the lining of the stomach becomes more susceptible to injury from stomach acid and enzymes. The main complications associated withH. pyloriinfection therefore are inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis) and the development ofstomach ulcers.

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Symptoms of a stomach ulcer include:

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  • Pain in the stomach, especially at night or when the stomach is empty pain can be intermittent or long lasting
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  • Bloating
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  • Nausea
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  • Weight loss
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  • Fever
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  • Dark stools resulting from stomach bleeds
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  • Reduced appetite
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Iron-deficiencyanemiaand vitamin B12 deficiency can occur secondary toH. pyloriinfection, although researchers still dont know why.

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While stomach cancer isnt common,H. pylorimost often causes it. Signs of stomach cancer resemble those of an ulcer. The recommendation, therefore, is to see a doctor if you have any of the above symptoms that persist.

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Most often,H. pyloricauses no symptoms at all.

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H. pylori Infection InfographicPIN IT

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Causes of H. Pylori

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Most infections occur in children and persist throughout life. The bacterias flagella (tail-like appendages that the organisms use to move) enables them to penetrate the stomach lining. Once inside the stomach lining, they become inaccessible to many of the bodys immune defenses.

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H. pyloriis even protected from hydrochloric acid (stomach acid). The primary function of the acid is to kill bacteria and other unwanted organisms that enter the stomach. However, this bacteria burrows its way into the stomach lining and secretes substances that make the environment inside the stomach less acidic. Therefore, stomach acids do not have any effect onH. pylori.

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The exact way thatH. pylorispreads from one person to another is still unclear. However, the bacterium is often carried in human feces as well as oral secretions like saliva, vomit and dental plaque. Therefore, contact with the fecal matter without washing the hands, or mouth-to-mouth contact may cause the spread of the bacterium.

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In addition,H. pylorican also be spread by consuming contaminated water or food.

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People at Risk

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Children are more susceptible to contractingH. pyloriinfection than adults. They are most at risk because of poor hygiene and children often put things in their mouths, unaware of the dangers. The environment and living conditions mainly determine the risk of infection. Those who are at risk include:

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  • People living in developing countries
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  • People sharing items or houses with others who have been infected byH. pylori
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  • Those living in overcrowded conditions
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  • Those without access to clean water
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H. Pylori Diagnosis

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H. pyloriinfection can be diagnosed through stool tests and special breathing tests. Your doctor may also start by asking you about your health history and that of your family. People who live in the same household are more likely to passH. pylorito one another.

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To check for damage to the esophagus, stomach and upper intestines thatH. pyloricould cause, doctors may perform an endoscopy that allows them to see the lining of the digestive tract and take tissue samples for biopsy if necessary.

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H. Pylori Prevention

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There are ways to protect yourself fromH. pylori. Generally, proper hygiene helps keep the infection at bay. Some good hygiene practices include:

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  • Avoid drinking unclean food or water make sure the water you use is treated or boiled
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  • Avoid eating raw foods
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  • Wash your hands before touching any food
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Did You Know?

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  • H. pyloriis the second-most studied pathogen in the world afterE. coli
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  • Infection withH. pylorimay help protect people from other conditions like cholera, diarrhea infections in children, asthma, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and some cancers
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  • Research has only confirmed that humans carry, and therefore spread,H. pylori(though) some studies suggest that sheep and houseflies may also transmit the bacteria
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H. Pylori Treatments and Remedies

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Medication

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Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics to rid the body ofH. pylori. Success with antibiotic treatment depends on choosing the right medication (for example, not one to which the patient will show antibiotic resistance), and using it correctly. Sometimes additional courses of antibiotics are needed. Antacids may also be prescribed to manage ulcers.

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Diet

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Some foods reduce colonization and activity ofH. pyloriin the stomach. As a result, they reduce symptoms of gastritis, ulcers, and stomach cancers. Foods in the brassica family such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and radishes contain compounds called isothiocyanates which inhibit both the growth ofH. pyloriand cancer cells.

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Fruits containing phenolic acids such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and bilberries also show antibacterial effects onH. pylori.

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Eating probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut in a good way, helping to keepH. pyloriin check. Studies found probiotics to be especially useful when combined with conventional antibiotic treatment.

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Finally, honey, especially manuka honey, exhibits antibacterial properties againstH. pylori. In one study, researchers found that those who consumed a combination of honey and green or black tea reduced their chance ofH. pyloriinfection.

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In most cases,H. pyloriinfection and associated symptoms can be healed a few days after administering antibiotics. Avoid taking NSAIDs to treat abdominal pain caused byH. pyloriinfection because they may cause further damage to your stomach lining. Instead, consult your doctor for pain medication.

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Supplements

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Blueberry Extract

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Blueberriescontain high levels of phenolic acids which research shows limits the activity ofH. pyloriin the stomach and makes antibiotic treatment more successful. In addition, it contains loads of other vitamins and minerals that promote overall health, a healthy weight, and cardiovascular health. As a dietary supplement, take 800 milligrams ofblueberry extract powderonce or twice daily, or as directed by a physician. Best taken with a meal.

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Cranberry Extract

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Like blueberries,cranberriescontain lots of phytochemicals that reduce inflammation, slow the aging process, and inhibit the growth of bacteria. When tested specifically onH. pylori, one study found that a cranberry juice-based beverage reduced the bacterias activity in the body. As a supplement, take 400 milligrams ofcranberry extract powderone to three times daily, or as directed by a physician. For best results, be sure to drink plenty of water during supplementation.

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Green Tea Extract

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Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world after water. And for good reason!Green teain particular offers unparalleled health benefits that include reducing inflammation, supporting the immune system and brain, promoting a healthy weight, and even fighting cancer. Thanks to its high polyphenol content, research also shows that regular green tea drinkers have lower rates ofH. pyloriinfection. Some supplements, likegreen tea extract (50% polyphenols)are formulated to contain higher amounts of this specific compound. As a dietary supplement, its recommended to be taken in servings of 500 mg and consumed either once or twice a day.However, intake should never amount to more than 1,000 mg per day, and this supplement should never be used for more than 3 months at a time.

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Bee Propolis

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Bee propolisis a type of apitherapy which describes products made from bees that have unique healing properties.Propolishas demonstrated therapeutic effects on the digestive system including suppressingH. pyloriactivity. Take 1200 milligrams once or twice daily, or as directed by a physician.

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Celery Seed Extract

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When dealing withH. pylorior the stomach ulcers it can cause,celery seed extractcan be effective. First, its shown antibacterial effects againstH. pylori. In addition, it helps promote the production of healthy stomach secretions which protect the lining of the stomach and reduce discomfort associated with ulcers. As a dietary supplement, take 1,000 mg ofcelery seed extractone to three times daily, or as directed by a physician.

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Ginger Root Extract

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Gingeris well known for its soothing effects on the stomach. Not only does it relieve discomfort associated with an ulcer, it also inhibits the growth ofH. pylori. Eaten fresh, made into a tea, or used as a dietary supplement, there are many ways to incorporate ginger into your daily routine. You can take 1,000 milligrams ofginger root extractonce daily, or as directed by a physician. To avoid any heartburn, take with at least 8 ounces of water.

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Olive Leaf Extract

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Olive oilgets a lot of credit for its health-promoting properties. However, olive leaves offer many benefits as well! Specifically, its an excellent antimicrobial and fights all kinds of infections from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Not surprisingly, research shows thatolive leaf extractalso has a protective effect againstH. pylori. Take 750 milligrams daily with meals, or as directed by a physician.

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The Bottom Line

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H. pyloriis an extremely common infection worldwide. Most of the time, infection goes unnoticed and causes no symptoms or problems. Sometimes, however, ulcers and stomach cancers can develop. People generally arent tested forH. pyloriunless theyre experiencing troublesome symptoms. Antibiotic therapy can help eradicate the bacteria. In addition, several nutrients naturally found in plants and plant extracts can help minimize infection and manage uncomfortable symptoms.

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