The stomach, located between the esophagus and the small intestine, is responsible for temporarily storing food through secretion of gastric juice and regulating gastric motility, and transporting it down to the small intestine through digestion. It also plays a role in removing various bacteria introduced through the mouth by gastric acid secreted from the stomach. Helicobacter pylori is a parasitic bacterium between the gastric mucosa and mucus. The official name is Helicobacter pylori, and it is commonly called Helicobacter pylori for short. In addition, it is known that about 50% of the world is infected, and it is reported that about 60~70% of the total population in Korea is infected. Helicobacter pylori, which has several flagella and has a spiral shape, is characterized by fast movement and slow growth. In addition, it contains urease, an essential component for bacteria to survive in the gastrointestinal mucosa. Due to these characteristics, even if it enters the stomach, it is said to be able to survive in the stomach, unlike general bacteria that cannot survive with strong gastric acid. Due to the characteristic of surviving in the gastrointestinal mucosa, if proliferation continues, it becomes the main cause of gastritis, gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer, and gastric cancer. In particular, there is a statistic that infection with Helicobacter pylori increases the risk of gastric cancer by about 3.8 times, which is known as one of the important causes of gastric cancer. In 1994, the WHO designated Helicobacter pylori infection as a major carcinogen of gastric cancer. Now, let’s learn about the main causes, symptoms, and treatment of Helicobacter pylori.
Causes of Helicobacter pylori
Although the route of infection that causes Helicobacter pylori is not yet clearly known, it is presumed that infection occurs through a human-to-human transmission route. It is a characteristic of infecting other people through media such as water and food, and it is believed that transmission occurs due to the influence of eating habits of putting food in one bowl and eating it together. The fact that the incidence of infection caused by Helicobacter pylori is higher in the family compared to those who are not infected can be seen as evidence supporting this part. In addition, it is known that infection can occur when it comes in contact with Helicobacter pylori excreted in the feces, and it is also known that infection occurs under the influence of instruments such as endoscopes. Helicobacter pylori main symptoms
Symptoms caused by Helicobacter pylori infection have the characteristic that they appear differently depending on the diversity of the strain and the susceptibility of the host. In addition, even if an infection occurs, there are often no symptoms, so in most cases, asymptomatic infection persists. If symptoms of Helicobacter pylori infection appear at a mild stage, symptoms such as mild indigestion, heartburn, and nausea may occur. As the symptoms progress gradually, the typical symptoms of gastritis with epigastric pain and discomfort appear. In particular, if these diseases are not treated appropriately, the likelihood of developing gastric cancer increases. Helicobacter pylori infection does not unconditionally lead to cancer, but if you have a family history of gastric cancer, a patient with intestinal epithelial metaplasia, or a disease such as chronic atrophic gastritis, you are in the high-risk group for gastric cancer, increasing your risk of developing it. Since several studies have shown that Helicobacter pylori eradication treatment is effective in preventing gastric cancer, it is important to receive appropriate diagnosis and early treatment through regular check-ups if you are in a high-risk group. Helicobacter pylori treatment and management method
1. Multiple tests and treatments
Helicobacter pylori can be diagnosed through blood tests, urea exhalation tests, and biopsies through gastroscopy. In particular, the urea exhalation test, which collects exhaled breaths, allows you to know the results with just a simple breath, and is much more convenient than endoscopy, so it is a widely used method. In order to sterilize Helicobacter pylori, treatment with antibiotics and gastric acid inhibitors is performed for 1 to 2 weeks. After the treatment by taking the drug, the test is re-tested 4 weeks later to check whether all Helicobacter pylori has disappeared. It is reported that the removal rate of Helicobacter pylori by such antibacterial treatment is about 80-90%. However, if you experience severe side effects such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, bitter taste, or nausea while taking the drug, it is recommended to consult a doctor. In addition, if you skip or stop taking antibiotics, resistance may make the next treatment difficult, so you should not stop arbitrarily.
2. Maintain a healthy diet
In addition to the various treatment methods mentioned above, maintaining a healthy diet for managing digestive health is also an important management habit to prevent infection caused by Helicobacter pylori. It is recommended to eat a balanced diet of fresh vegetables and fruits such as cabbage, broccoli, and tomatoes, and to reduce the intake of processed foods, processed meats, and smoked foods high in salt and various chemical seasonings. In addition, it is recommended to avoid the consumption of burnt meat as much as possible, and excessive drinking, coffee, and tobacco are also major risk factors for worsening stomach health, so it is a good way to avoid it.