Helicobacter is one of the most common reasons for diseases of the upper digestive system, and it is estimated that half of the population is infected with this microorganism!
Helicobacter pylori infection attacks the mucus of the stomach since it survives in acidic environment. However, the symptoms do not manifest in the same way in all people, due to the immunologic properties of the organism and in this unnoticed way it can live in our body for decades, even our entire life.
Helicobacter is very movable, and it is a gram-negative bacteria. Besides the stomach mucus, this bacterium can appear in the teeth plaque, wounds in the mouth cavity, saliva and feces. Since it is easily transmitted through unclean hands as other bacteria, it is a common phenomenon in poorly developed countries where up to 80% of the population is infected with this bacterium, whereas in the more developed countries, this percentage is from 20 to 50%. Therefore, it is logical that this infection is also called the disease of dirty hands.
A lot of people get infected since childhood, primarily due to poor hygiene. Moreover, sometimes it is difficult to confirm the first time of the transfer of the helicobacter since the infection can persevere for years without any symptoms. In most of the cases, helicobacter is diagnosed much later in life. Polluted foods (poorly washed fruits and vegetables); unclean water and dirty hands are the most frequent ways of transfer. Also, this infection can be transmitted with the method mouth to mouth, from infected to healthy people.
The most common symptoms of this infection are stomach ache and cramps, heartburn, bloated stomach, poor digestion, nausea, vomiting, unpleasant breath, etc. Some patients with chronic gastritis do not have any symptoms, but on the other hand, they can get more intensive if there is, for example, ulcer on the stomach together with the infection. Along with a strong ache, which is the most dominant sign, there is also a loss of appetite, and weight loss, blood in the stool in 25% of the cases. However, there are other symptoms which point out that there might be an infection in our body such as depression, lack of energy and strength, anxiety, chronic fatigue, insomnia, skin changes. What’s more, the intensity varies, so in some infected people the stomach ache will dominate, whereas in others the indirect symptoms. Prevention is timely discovery of the infection by consulting a professional upon the first symptoms, i.e. conducting a hygiene and diet regime with proper and diverse meals. A vaccine against helicobacter is still in the examination phase, but according to some estimation, it will be massively used in three to four years.
This bacterium was discovered in 1982 by the Australian doctors Berry Marshal and Robin Warren. Since then, it is known that gastritis, stomach ulcer or duodenum ulcer is not caused only by certain medications, as it was the common thought until then, and the risk factors include alcohol consumption, smoking and stress.
However, after the discovery, more and more proves showed that this bacterium has the biggest role in the appearance of stomach diseases, usually in combination with harmful medications when the danger from ulcer is significantly on the rise for 60%. Besides, according to newest data, the bacterium is associated with carcinoma or MALT Lymphoma, and this gives a more serious dimension relating this bacterium, especially because it has not yet been confirmed why these dangerous diseases develop only in certain patients.
BREATH -TEST DIAGNOSIS
The urea breath test is a non invasive diagnostic method which is conducted with a pill that the patient needs to drink. This pill contains urea with carbon C13. The helicobacter contains an enzyme urea which metabolizes urea with CL 3, releases CO2 and releases it during the breathing together with C13.
This is a highly sensitive test and it is recognized all around the globe as the best indicator for the success of the therapy against pylori infection, as well as the first method of diagnosis of the disease. Moreover, the diagnosis can be established with a blood test or saliva examination for antibodies, but are somewhat less reliable methods, since they can provide false positive results on IgG antibodies which remain in the blood long after the infection was cured.
The bacteria in the stomach can be detected with stool check of antigenic bacteria, but this is a rarely practiced procedure. If the person has serious symptoms and has over 40 years of age with positive family anamnesis, then, the invasive but most reliable diagnostic method is practiced- gastroscopy. This method includes taking samples directly from the stomach mucus, which is further sent to detailed pathohistological analysis.
The therapy primarily consists of complete change of nutrition and life habits. You need to eat regularly and frequently, in smaller amounts, and you have to avoid spiced and chili foods almost always, as well as alcohol consumption. Helicobacter can be also treated with medicines, according to official medicine, which includes a combination of at least three medicines- two antibiotics and inhibitor of proton pump which lowers the acidity in the stomach area, and creates unpleasant conditions for the development of the bacterium. Medicaments from the group of probiotics are used in eradication protocols, whereas H2 antagonists are used when the helicobacter pylori infection has not yet been confirmed. If there are complications and newly developed diseases caused by the bacterium, the recommended therapy continues and new therapeutic measures are introduced. For example, carcinoma and lymphomas of stomach are usually treated surgically.
THERAPY AND SIDE EFFECTS
Side effects appear in 50% of the patients, usually mild, but in around 10% of the cases, the treatment is stopped or the dosages and combination of medicaments are changed. Some of the reactions of the medicaments are “metallic” taste in the mouth and bowel malfunction, due to which there can appear unpleasant cramps in the stomach, diarrhea, constipation or blackish stool. If the patient continues with alcohol consumption, strong headaches, fatigue, nausea, excessive sweat and rapid pulse can develop. Also, 20% of the patients are not completely cured after the treatment, and it this case, it is necessary to change the protocol and try new medicaments. Afterwards, new testing is done in order to confirm whether the bacterium has disappeared. The therapy is considered successful if four weeks after the end of the treatment, the diagnostic tests show negative results of the infections.
One of the most important factors for treating the infection is proper nutrition in combination with the appropriate medications, and natural tees, which gives excellent results. The infection can be related to gluten intolerance, so the patient needs to avoid bread, pasta, rolls i.e. all products which contain wheat, rye or barley flour. Also, soya and cow milk, alcohol, caffeine, industrial salt, red meat and sweet drinks are not recommended. The bacterium demands discipline and consistency in the nutrition. Moreover, you need to intake high amounts of foods with fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, such as apples, garlic, celery, legumes, cranberries, etc. You need to avoid fried meats, also barbecue. Eat fish at least twice per week and avoid artificial sweeteners and sugars and try to eat less sour fruits.
Add a teaspoon of linseed in 2 dl of boiling water. Cover the cup and leave it like that for 2 to 3 hours. Afterwards, strain it and take one teaspoon of linseed, before every meal. The mucus in the linseed arrives at the walls of the stomach, thus lowering the ache, especially in gastritis, characterized by sensitive and irritated mucus. However, this bacterium is not the only reason why you need to consume linseed every day, since it is highly beneficial for healthy people as well, at least one spoon per day as prevention for numerous diseases because it improves digestion and stool, etc.