- Dr. Lesa Lawson
Could It Be H.pylori?
Years ago, I bought dinner from one of my favorite restaurants in New York City and contracted H.pylori. Chances are that I had worsened the condition by having dinner from the same place several times. Stomach inflammation gave way to nausea and constant vomiting. Over time, that led to worse problems that took time to treat.
What is H.pylori?
Its official name is Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that causes infection and gastritis, a persistent inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach. H.pylori can also cause ulcers. It is most commonly transferred through contaminated food and water, as well as by human contact. Did the cook or server not wash his hands? I will never know. In actuality, I'm not sure that I want to.
The incidence of infection is said to be decreasing in the United States because of increasing awareness and accessibility of treatment. In my opinion, though, there seems to be a slight increase again, especially within big cities, simply because there are so many restaurants and delicatessens, bars, and corner shops. Gyros, falafels, and sandwiches abound from food trucks. It is said that about 30% of the adult population in the United States is infected and about 50% of the world’s population is infected.
Some people will have ‘flare-ups’ when gastrointestinal conditions undergo a change. Change can be anything from an aggravating food, poor sanitation, acidic stomach conditions, to oral-to-oral or fecal-to-oral contact. Some people will have little to no symptoms but once detected, H.pylori should be treated to avoid worsening or developing into another disease.
What are the symptoms of H. pylori?
Some people may not exhibit symptoms and therefore, do not even know that they have H.pylori feel nothing or the symptoms are fleeting. Some may experience the above symptoms. Others have more a serious infection and experience stronger symptoms including:
Ongoing stomach pain
Unsettled feeling in the stomach
Very dark or black feces
Blood in stool (if there were no straining)
Ongoing decrease in appetite, without cause
If you are experiencing a number of these symptoms for a period of time, please see your doctor. He/she may do any or a combination of blood test, urea breath test, stool test (to check for antigens) or an endoscopy. These tests help to determine whether you have H.pylori or not and help your practitioner to determine a course of treatment for you.