Stomach ulcers: What you must know and why you are prone too
Stomach ulcers demystified: What you must know about H-Pylori bacteria
For decades, people thought that one gets ulcers from stress, spicy foods, smoking, or other lifestyle habits. But when scientists discovered Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in 1982, they found that the germs were the cause of most stomach ulcers.
This infection has left many Nairobian’s worried after it emerged that the infection rate is shockingly high and this is due to poor urban sanitation and poor access to clean water. It’s a concern because it’s present in the city’s water systems and is hard to treat.
Kenyans took to social media to share their traumatic encounters with H.pylori and the treatment process not forgetting how expensive the H.pylori kits are.
A study in 2010 by Medical Microbiology Sub department, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya showed the prevalence of H. pylori infection in children was 73.3%, and 54.8% in adults.
WHAT IS STOMACH CAUSING BACTERIA- H.PYLORI?
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria. These germs can enter your body and live in your digestive tract. After many years, they can cause sores, called ulcers, in the lining of your stomach or the upper part of your small intestine. For some people, an infection can lead to stomach cancer.
Infection with H. pylori is common. About two-thirds of the world’s population has it in their bodies. For most people, it doesn’t cause ulcers or any other symptoms. If you do have problems, there are medicines that can kill the germs and help sores heal.
After H. pylori enters your body, it attacks the lining of your stomach, which usually protects you from the acid your body uses to digest food. Once the bacteria have done enough damage, acid can get through the lining, which leads to ulcers. These may bleed, cause infections, or keep food from moving through your digestive tract.
You can get H. pylori from food, water, or utensils. It’s more common in places that lack clean water or good sewage systems. You can also pick up the bacteria through contact with the saliva or other body fluids of infected people.
With good hygiene habits, you can protect yourself and your children from H. pylori.
SYMPTOMS OF STOMACH ULCERS
If you have an ulcer, you may feel a dull or burning pain in your belly. It may come and go, but you’ll probably feel it most when your stomach is empty, such as between meals or in the middle of the night. It can last for a few minutes or for hours. You may feel better after you eat, drink milk, or take an antacid.
Other signs of stomach ulcer include:
- Not feeling hungry
- Weight loss for no clear reason
- Severe, sharp stomach pain
- Feeling very tired for no reason
Treatment for stomach ulcers
If you have ulcers caused by H. pylori, you’ll need treatment to kill the germs, heal your stomach lining, and keep the sores from coming back. It usually takes 1 to 2 weeks of treatment to get better.
But it’s really important to take everything that your doctor prescribes and to follow instructions. If you don’t take antibiotics the right way, bacteria in your body can become resistant to them, which makes infections harder to treat. If your medications bother you, talk to your doctor about your treatment options and how you can handle side effects.
About 1-2 weeks after you finish your treatment, your doctor may test your breath or stool again to make sure the infection is gone.
Prevention of stomach ulcers
You can protect yourself from getting an H. pylori infection with the same steps you take to keep other germs at bay:
Wash your hands after you use the bathroom and before you prepare or eat food. Teach your children to do the same.
Avoid food or water that’s not clean.
Don’t eat anything that isn’t cooked thoroughly.
Avoid food served by people who haven’t washed their hands.
Though stress, spicy foods, alcohol, and smoking don’t cause ulcers, they can keep them from healing quickly or make your pain worse. Talk to your doctor about ways to manage your stress, improve your diet, and, if you smoke, how you can get help to quit.
STOMACH ULCERS: What can I expect after H. pylori infection?
Most ulcers caused by H. pylori will heal after a few weeks of treatment. If you’ve had one, you should avoid taking NSAIDs for pain, since these drugs can damage your stomach lining. If you need pain medicine, ask your doctor to recommend some.