Gastrointestinal infections are more common than you think. People often develop them as a result of food that has been contaminated. One of the most common gastrointestinal infections is known as H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori). It is a common type of bacterial infection that occurs in the stomach and upper intestines. The infection is known to cause peptic ulcers, which are characterized by sores or holes that develop in the lining of the stomach or upper intestine. It is estimated that about 1 in every 50 people has a helicobacter pylori infection.
Many people who have H. pylori never even know they have it because they are not aware of the signs or symptoms of the infection and may think they just have a stomach bug. Some people may never develop any signs or symptoms of H. pylori because they may have been born with a stronger resistance to the side effects of the infection. However, other people may develop signs or symptoms that are very apparent and can make you feel very sick. This is especially true if a peptic ulcer develops in the lining of the stomach or upper intestine. H. pylori can be treated with antibiotics.
When a person has been infected with H. pylori and does experience signs or symptoms, they may include an ache or burning pain in your abdomen, abdominal pain that's worse when your stomach is empty, nausea, a loss of appetite, frequent burping, bloating, or unintentional weight loss.
It is unclear exactly how H. pylori is transmitted. It may be transmitted from person to person via being exposed to an infected person’s saliva. It may also be transmitted via being exposed to an infected person’s fecal matter or vomit. H. pylori may also be passed on when a person consumes food or water that has been contaminated by the bacteria that causes the infection.
It is most common for people to be exposed to and develop H. pylori during their childhood. The risk factors for H. pylori infection that raise your risk for developing the infection are associated with certain living conditions that one experiences during their childhood. Living conditions that often occur during your childhood that may increase your risk for developing H. pylori include living in crowded conditions such as a home with many other people, living without a reliable supply of clean water, living in a developing country (where crowded and unsanitary living conditions are more common), or living with someone who has an H. pylori infection.
Treatment for H. pylori may include antibiotics, acid-suppressing medications, antacids, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding things like caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.