H. Pylori and Its Symptoms, Complications & Treatments
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is easily spread within households while only a minority of the infected people will show signs of infection, leading to more than 50% Hong Kong population being infected. Not only is H. pylori widely spread, it can also cause stomach cancer – the 6th most common cancer in Hong Kong. Let’s have a better understanding of H. pylori and learn how to better protect our stomach health.
H. Pylori – Signs of Infection
Normally, only around 20% of the infected will experience stomach discomfort, while others will show no signs of infection at all. If you have the following symptoms, you are advised to consult your doctor ASAP:
- Bad breath
- Frequent burping
- Weight loss
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Peptic ulcer
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Black stools
Potential Complications Caused by H. Pylori
The potential of developing more severe illnesses from a H. pylori infection cannot be ruled out even if no symptom is observed. Discovering a H. pylori infection at an early stage and receiving treatment can lower the risk of potential stomach illnesses. Potential stomach illnesses include:
- Stomach cancer
- Gastric lymphoma
- Stomach ulcer
- Duodenal ulcer
- Iron deficiency anemia
It is important to eliminate H. pylori even if you recover from stomach illnesses as the H. pylori that remains in your stomach can lead to potential recurrence of illnesses.
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H. Pylori – Modes of Transmission
H. pylori bacteria are usually passed from person to person through direct contact with saliva, vomit or stool. It may also spread through contaminated food or water.
Household members are prone to a higher risk of a H. pylori infection due to frequent and intimate contact and behaviors like sharing utensils, especially those living in crowded or unhygienic conditions. It is reported that the household transmission rate of H. pylori can reach as high as 60%. To protect your family's stomach health, it is advised to test for H. pylori when your stomach feels sick, and consult a doctor if the result is positive.
Simple and Easy Treatments
H. pylori infected persons should consult a doctor for appropriate treatments. Patients usually receive "triple therapy" by taking antibiotics for 1-2 weeks. Its side effects are relatively mild and can achieve an efficacy of 85%.