What Is Helicobacter Pylori Gastritis?
Gastritis is a general term referring to inflammation or irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. Gastritis can be caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), thus H. pylori gastritis. Certain medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), like aspirin and ibuprofen, can cause gastritis as well. H. pylori works by attacking the mucous shield that coats the stomach and duodenum. When the bacterium creates a wound in the gastrointestinal tract, it has caused an ulcer. H. pylori is believed to be passed from person to person, although the exact mechanism of infection remains unclear. H. pylori is a very common cause of peptic ulcers and gastritis in adults, but it can and does occur in children too.
Many people are carriers of H. pylori but do not have symptoms or have very mild symptoms. Symptoms of H. pylori ulcer and gastritis include:
- dull stomach ache or pain
- abdominal discomfort that comes and goes
- bloating and sensation of fullness
- mild nausea
- belching and regurgitation
- feeling hungry one to three hours after eating
However, these can be signs of many other conditions.
- X-ray of the gastrointestinal tract
- Endoscopy, an exam of the stomach and duodenum with an endoscope, a thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera on the end
- Blood test or stool test for H. pylori
Gastritis caused by H. pylori is treated with a course of antibiotics to eradicate the bacterium from GI tract, as well as with drugs to reduce stomach acid, and protect the stomach lining. It is also important to avoid aspirin-containing medicines, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs because these irritate the stomach and can even cause stomach bleeding.
When to Call for Help?
Call your pediatrician if your child has any symptoms suggestive of gastritis. If your child has been diagnosed with an ulcer or H. pylori gastritis, call a doctor immediately if the following occur as they may be symptoms of gastro-intestinal bleeding or ulcer perforation:
- sudden, sharp abdominal pain
- blood in the stool or black feces
- bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
At Hopkins Children’s, H. pylori gastritis is treated by the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition.