Despite the fact that Helicobacter pylori infections are very common, many people haven’t heard of them. In fact, as many as 40% of Americans are infected by H. pylori bacteria at some point during their lives, although not everyone develops symptoms.
H. pylori infections are the primary cause of peptic ulcers (sometimes called stomach ulcers), which are sores that develop in the lining of the stomach. These infections also increase your risk of developing stomach cancer.
At Digestive Disease Specialists, with locations in Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, our providers use advanced testing to diagnose and treat H. pylori infections. However, knowing what symptoms to look for can help you get treatment as soon as possible. In this post, our team offers a quick overview of six of the most common symptoms you should be aware of.
1. Stomach pain or burning
- pylori infections cause irritation and inflammation in the stomach lining, effects that can cause chronic stomach pain, dull aching, or burning sensations. These feelings can be especially strong when your stomach is empty, often resolving temporarily after you eat.
2. Bloating in the upper belly
As the H. pylori bacteria burrow into your stomach lining, they interfere with normal digestion and affect your stomach acid, too. This combination can lead to swelling and uncomfortable bloating in your upper abdomen.
3. Nausea and vomiting
Because the bacteria irritate and inflame the stomach, this can also cause vomiting and feelings of nausea. Sometimes, your vomit may have blood in it. This is a serious sign that you may have an active ulcer, which requires an immediate call to our office.
4. Chronic indigestion
Many people with H. pylori infections experience significant indigestion or dyspepsia, often accompanied by frequent burping. Some people have acid reflux or heartburn as a result of their infection.
5. Loss of appetite
Not surprisingly, when your stomach is irritated and sore, your appetite can be affected. In this case, you might have a reduced appetite or a loss of appetite. Sometimes, this symptom can go on for so long that you may lose weight unintentionally.
6. Bloody stools
If you have an active ulcer due to an H. pylori infection, you might have blood in your stool. In most cases, the blood appears very dark — almost black. Your stools might have a tarry appearance or consistency. If you have bloody stools, you should call our office right away so we can get any bleeding under control.
Don’t ignore these symptoms
Left untreated, H. pylori infections can lead to internal bleeding, stomach perforation, or peritonitis, which is a serious and potentially life-threatening infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity.
Plus, some of these symptoms can be associated with other serious medical problems, including stomach cancer. Early evaluation can help you get the appropriate treatment before complications have a chance to develop.
If you have any symptoms of an H. pylori infection, or if you have any unusual symptoms that affect your stomach or digestion, don’t ignore them. Request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Digestive Disease Specialists today.