The good bacteria in our stomachs, called normal/intestinal flora, work harmoniously to combat and overpower the pathogens that try to invade our bodies through our oral cavities. This working normal flora matures and gets stronger as we mature.
Chemicals or Hormones Imbalance
Stomach problems can result from an imbalance in the digestive chemicals or hormones in another part of the body. It can also be caused by bacteria. Most of the time bacteria come into our bodies via our mouths because of the food we ingest. Most bacteria are swept away by the constant motion of the digestive system, but some bacteria can attach itself to the stomach lining and reek havoc.
Some bacteria can live in our stomach for years and manifest into a problem in our later life. One such bacterium is H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori). This disease can be present in a child’s body but not show any signs or symptoms. As the child becomes an adult, the H. pylori can turn into other problems such as gastritis or peptic ulcers. . This disease is a contagious disease and should be treated with a doctor’s care.
Gastritis & Peptic Ulcers
Gastritis usually produces nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain in children. Peptic ulcers are like heartburn but below the ribs. If a child complains about these kinds of pain, feed him or her. If the pain persists after eating, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Gastroenteritis not only affects the stomach, but the intestines, as well. Another name for gastroenteritis is stomach flu. It is caused more often by viruses and less by bacteria. This is a treatable condition that affects too many children in impoverished countries. Bacteria like salmonella, Clostridium difficile and E. coli cause gastroenteritis through contaminated water sources or undercooked meat, seafood, baked goods or unpasteurized dairy, and more recently, apple juice.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of gastroenteritis are similar to gastritis but also involve diarrhea (which produces dehydration), loss of appetite, headaches, abnormal flatulence, abdominal cramps, dysentery, fatigue and fainting. Some stomach bacteria symptoms are from diseases like shigella that causes mucus, pus and blood to be in the diarrhea.
Degree of Immunity
Each person’s body and immune system determines how many symptoms and how strong the symptoms will manifest. A person’s stomach pH assists the counteraction of disease microbes. HCL (hydrochloric acid) is the acid of the stomach that also helps in getting rid of pathogenic microorganisms. Bile, an acid that is produced by the liver, also destroys pathogens, but E. coli, shigella and salmonella are not destroyed by bile.
Hand-washing, clean water supplies and proper food handling is key to the prevention of these digestive nuisances and sometimes, but unnecessarily, life-threatening diseases.