Prevention & Risk Assessment
How does H. pylori cause damage?
It is believed that H. pylori's shape and characteristics cause the damage that leads to ulcers.
Because of their shape and the way they move, the bacteria can penetrate the stomach's protective mucous lining where they produce the enzyme urease, which generates substances that neutralize the stomach's acids. This weakens the stomach's protective mucus, makes the stomach cells more susceptible to the damaging effects of acid and pepsin, and leads to sores or ulcers in the stomach or duodenum (first part of the small intestine).
The bacteria can also attach to stomach cells, further weakening the stomach's defensive mechanisms and producing local inflammation. For reasons not completely understood, H. pylori can also stimulate the stomach to produce more acid.
What causes an H. pylori infection?
Researchers do not know what causes people to develop H. pylori. It is believed that H. pylori is transmitted orally from person to person through close contact (kissing) or through fecal-oral contact. Most people are first exposed to it during childhood.
What are the symptoms of H. pylori?
The following are the most common symptoms of H. pylori. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.
After being infected with H. pylori, gastritis--an inflammation of the stomach lining--may develop. However, most people will never have symptoms or problems related to the infection. When symptoms are present, they may include the following:
- Abdominal discomfort, which may:
- Cause a dull, gnawing pain
- Occur two to three hours after a meal
- Come and go for several days or weeks
- Occur in the middle of the night when stomach is empty
- Be relieved by eating or taking an antacid medication
- Loss of weight
- Loss of appetite
The symptoms of H. pylori may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.