Helicobacter Pylori, also known as H. pylori, is a bacterial toxin that attacks the lining of the stomach and can induce inflammation. This bacteria often enters through the mouth and then passes to the digestive system. Many people do not exhibit signs or symptoms of H. pylori, so many do not even realize they have it. But according to NDDIC, or the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, 20 percent of people under 40 are infected with H. pylori; half of those over 60 can contract it, too. Signs and symptoms can be mild or severe, and some of these symptoms are serious enough to require immediate medical treatment.
When H. pylori worsens, it can cause stomach or intestinal ulcers, or open sores within the organ. One sign that an ulcer has developed in the stomach is a burning feeling that normally occurs when the stomach is empty. The burning feeling can last for a few minutes or for many hours. Taking coated medications like Pepto-Bismol or Mylanta, can soothe the burning sensation.
H. pylori bacteria can cause gastritis, which occurs when bacteria enters the stomach lining, causing inflammation. This symptom resembles those of ulcers, but ulcers generally are not found in suffers of gastritis. With this condition, the lining of the stomach becomes damaged over time, and because of this damage, acid-producing glands are loss. These changes, if left untreated, can lead to stomach cancer.
Some types of H. pylori can lead to two types of stomach cancer, gastric cancer and MALT (Mucosa-Associated Lymphatic Tissue) lymphoma. Signs and symptoms of it often do not occur until its reached an advanced stage but may include a bloating and full feeling. This can happen even after a small meal and may be followed by excessive gas. Also, when eating, stomach pain can occur. Other signs of stomach cancer are bad breath and a decline in health. Gastric cancer can be caused by H. pylori because this bacteria infects the lining of the stomach. It can become inflamed and ulcers can form. If left untreated, this turns into gastric cancer. Most patients who develop MALT lymphoma are infected with H. pylori. They develop this type of lymphoma more than patients without H. pylori. This lymphoma causes tumors to form in the stomach. It is not clear what the link is between this type of lymphoma and H. pylori, but this cancer can go into remission once antibiotics have been taken to clear up the H. pylori bacteria.
Appetite and Weight Loss
Appetite and weight loss are also signs of an advanced H. pylori infection. The reason for loss of appetite can be attributed to pain in the stomach after eating and, therefore, weight loss; also, burning may occur.
Some digestive problems may also occur; one, excessive burping. This happens because of the bacteria that has formed in the lining of the stomach. Nausea and vomiting or a constant bloated feeling in the stomach and intestines may be symptoms as well. Serious digestive problems, such as vomiting, can occur, too, and should be treated by a physician. When this happens, the vomit can be mixed with blood or look like coffee grounds;this may happen because ulcers in the stomach begin to bleed. Also, black and tarry stools are another sign of bleeding ulcers.