H. Pylori - A pesky bacteria you should know about
Updated: Feb 20, 2022
Helicobacter Pylori or H. Pylori is a type of gram-negative bacteria that can cause serious issues in the stomach.
How does someone develop a H. pylori infection?
It can be passed from person to person living in the same household through saliva, vomit or fecal matter. Or, you can be infected by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food.
Wondering what the signs and symptoms of a H. pylori infection are? Let's take a look:
Burning in the stomach or a stomachache
Abdominal pain that gets worse when you don't eat
Loss of appetite
Unintentional weight loss
Health concerns with H. pylori you should know about:
Aside from symptoms listed above, (which, by the way, are not common for many people. In fact, most people are asymptomatic) an H. pylori infection can cause considerable health issues.
It can suppress our parietal cells which release Hydrochloric Acid (HCL). Reducing HCL can lead to iron, B12 and calcium malabsorption, contributing to anemia, malnutrition and osteoporosis.
Additionally, low HCL can reduce diversity in our microbiomes and eventually contribute to Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.
If that isn't enough, it can also lead to increased risk of cancer, autoimmunity, gastritis, type 1 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
How to determine if you have H. pylori
Anytime you have recurring stomach pain or digestive issues, you would want to reach out to your doctor or trusted practitioner. There are different ways of assessing whether or not you have contracted H. pylori.
A blood test can be run to see if you are producing antibodies for H. pylori. Honestly, this is the least effective option but can still be useful for starters.
A comprehensive stool test can detect proteins associated with an infection related to H. pylori. It is very reliable, but you would need to temporarily suspend certain medications including proton pump inhibitors or even pepto for a period of time prior to the stool collection. You would also need to wait a couple of weeks to do the stool test if you recently finished a round of antibiotics.
You can speak with your GI Specialist about an upper endoscopy. This is a procedure that requires light sedation. They thread a long, flexible tube with a camera through the upper part of your digestive tract, down into your stomach where H. pylori can be found. They are able to visually see any inflammation and also take biopsy samples to test.
If you do have an H. pylori infection, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. If you don't want to go that route, there are botanical protocols that can serve the same purpose. Creating an environment that H. pylori finds it difficult to thrive in by working with a practitioner who can help determine your levels of HCL and the right supplemental dose for your body is really important as well.
In the meantime, reducing your intake of spicy foods, alcohol and caffeinated beverages like sodas, coffee, and some teas can help ease symptoms if you have any.
Eating small meals more frequently can also be beneficial if you experience stomach pain or burning when you haven't eaten.