Complications of Helicobacter pylori infection

Helicobacter pylori (formerly known as Campylobacter pylori or pyloridis) is a gram-negative bacterium that is usually found in the stomach and is considered to cause gastritis and peptic ulcers. The infection is associated with various complications, from mild to severe. Taking into consideration the serious Helicobacter infection complications it is vital to detect the bacteria as soon as possible and start the appropriate treatment. Our test is designed to detect the bacteria.

Peptic ulcer disease

Positive H. pylori testPersistent Helicobacter pylori infection causes stimulates acid secretion in the stomach. The mechanisms which protect the stomach lining are not able to resist the increased acid levels – acid and the enzyme pepsin damage the stomach and duodenum lining and, therefore, peptic ulcers – the erosions of the mucosa – occur.

  • Gastric outlet obstruction (GOO) is the condition characterized by the gastric emptying impediment due to the narrowing of the duodenum or pylorus (distal part of the stomach) by the scar tissue which occurs on the site of the peptic ulcer when the latter heals.
    This complication develops in 8-25% of individuals who suffer from peptic ulcer. Individuals experience the feeling of fullness of the stomach, early satiety, pain and the feeling of pressure in the upper abdomen. As the lumen of the bowel narrows even more, vomiting occurs frequently and may relieve the pain. A person is weak, thirsty, loses weight progressively and has no appetite, the skin appears dry and pale. If untreated the condition may be even life-threatening.
  • Internal bleeding is a common complication of peptic ulcer characterized by tar-like stool (known as melena) or vomiting with the black vomit. Interestingly the pain disappears or is relieved as the bleeding occurs. Internal bleeding is a life-threatening condition if the bleeding is severe. In case of a mild bleeding it may last for several weeks or even months and the only symptoms are the development of anemia and dark stool. General malaise, vertigo, pale skin and mucous membranes, episodes of fainting, increased heart rate, headache and cold sweats are suggestive of internal bleeding.
  • Perforation is a condition when an ulcer breaks through the stomach wall and the contents of the stomach and the air gets into the abdominal cavity causing peritonitis – an inflammation of the abdominal cavity’s lining which requires emergent surgical treatment.
    The stomach wall perforates due to peptic ulcer exacerbation, alcohol abuse, stress, overeating, etc. A person experiences a sudden stabbing pain in the upper abdomen which denotes the exact moment when the perforation happens. When the peritoneum becomes inflamed, the pain worsens and spreads all over the abdomen. The muscles of the anterior abdominal wall strain – so-called muscular defense. Arterial pressure remains normal, heart rate increases, a person has a fever, feels dizzy and powerless, and sometimes vomits. Bloating and constipation occur due to the paresis of the bowel.
  • Penetration of the peptic ulcer develops when the ulcer breaks into the nearby organs such as the spleen, pancreas, liver, transverse colon without leakage of the stomach contents into the abdominal cavity. The symptoms also include the pain character and rhythm changes, pain irradiation. Ulcer penetration causes acute pancreatitis, cholecystitis and internal bleeding. Sometimes when an ulcer penetrates into colon, fecal vomiting may occur.

Gastric cancer

The chronic inflammation caused by Helicobacter pylori may in the future, result in:

  • metaplasia – reversible transformation of one cell type to another;
  • dysplasia – irreversible transformation of cells into the immature cells type;

These changes lead to the development of stomach or duodenal cancer. H.pylori infection increases the risk of developing gastric cancer, mainly intestinal-type adenocarcinoma 3 to 6 times. Gastric MALT lymphoma may also develop in association with the persisting H. pylori infection.

The symptoms suggestive of stomach cancer include: bloating, stomach pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, blood in the stool, constipation or diarrhea, disgust for meat, loss of appetite, loss of weight, weakness, general malaise and enlarged lymph nodes.

 

 

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