The main cause of peptic ulcer is infection by Helicobacter pylori, which affects approximately 40% of the population, being one of the most prevalent human infections.
For this reason, on World Health Day, the Spanish Foundation for the Digestive System (FEAD), endorsed Ferrer’s awareness campaign, which highlighted the importance of identifying your symptoms, existing diagnostic tests, and visiting the doctor specialist when needed.
The infection usually occurs in childhood, being less frequent in adults. Possible routes of infection can be by the fecal-oral or oral-oral route, mainly within the family, parents-children or between siblings.
According to Dr. Blas José Gómez Rodríguez, an expert at the Spanish Foundation for the Digestive System: “Helicobacter pylori infection, in addition to being the main cause of gastroduodenal ulcer and its complications, is also known for its pathogenic role in the development of cancer. gastric and gastric MALT lymphoma. Sometimes the symptoms are not so intense and it only manifests as gastric discomfort and poor digestion, which is known as dyspepsia, which improves on numerous occasions by treating the infection by this bacterium. Although the infection rarely resolves spontaneously and usually persists throughout life, it only causes symptoms in a small percentage that ranges between 10 and 25% of those infected ”.
The chronic gastritis or chronic duodenitis caused by infection by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori is, in most cases, asymptomatic and can associate or worsen dyspepsia symptoms, such as pain or discomfort in the upper-middle part of the abdomen after meals, abdominal distension and post-ingestion heaviness, nausea, etc.
Just some people develop complications such as gastric or duodenal ulcers, and not all have symptoms, but in the case of having them, the most frequent are:
Pain or discomfort in the upper and central part of the abdomen (low in the sternum) Bloating Early satiety Lack of appetite Nausea and vomiting Darkening of the stool that may become black as tar
Less frequently, other patients may become develop chronic gastritis, because changes can occur in the lining or inner layer of the stomach, or in very rare cases stomach cancer.
What is your diagnosis?
exist different tests to be able to diagnose the presence of Helicobacter pylori infection, but it must be taken into account that prior to performing the diagnostic test, stop taking omeprazole and its derivatives for the previous 14 days and for 4 weeks before the test in the case of antibiotics.
There are different effective diagnostic tests that the specialist doctor assesses:
Carbon 13 urea breath test. It consists of taking a urea tablet that contains carbon 13, which is broken down in the body passing into the blood and from there to the lungs, which allows analyzing the air expelled with the breath and knowing if the test is positive in Helicobacter pylori or not.Determination of Helicobacter pylori antigen in stool. It consists of searching the patient’s stool for the presence of the Helicobacter pylori antigen.Serological test. It consists of the determination in blood of the presence of antibodies against Helicobacter pylori.Invasive test (biopsies during upper gastrointestinal endoscopy) it is possible to determine the presence of Helicobacter pylori by taking a small sample of gastric tissue and performing a urease test, which is a test similar to a breath test, in which the tissue sample is contacted with a medium containing labeled urea. In case of having the infection, the pylori will break down the urea and the medium will take on a certain color that indicates its presence. It is also possible analyze the presence of Helicobacter pylori directly under the microscope when examining gastric tissue biopsies with histochemical stains and even with more specific techniques like immunohistochemistry, although the latter is not commonly used.