What Bacteria Causes Heartburn Is Answered By Research

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Bacteria Causes HeartburnMost of us have suffered from heartburn at one time or another. It is that feeling of pain and burning in in the upper abdomen and behind the sternum.

It is usually caused by acid reflux or acid indigestion.

The burning pain we feel is the stomach acid moving up into the back of the throat and causing inflammation which hurts.

Typically heartburn occurs right after or during eating or when we lie down too soon after we eat.

In the United States, people suffer from heartburn on a daily basis and in some it is a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In others is may be a one-time only even, not related to any disease.

It is common for people who are overweight or obese to suffer from heartburn because they may have increased pressure on the valve between the esophagus and the stomach and this will prevent reflux.

Excessive stomach acid can cause some individuals to be more prone to heartburn and research has shown the presence of certain bacteria in the stomach triggers the production of excess stomach acid.

Researchers have been asking the question, ‘What bacteria causes heartburn?’ and discovered that Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) may cause excessive stomach acid leading to reflux.

The answer to the question, what bacteria causes heartburn is H. pylori, a bacteria found in the stomach. H. pylori is responsible for many stomach ailments including most ulcers and chronic gastritis which is inflammation of the stomach.

It causes these illnesses by weakening the stomach’s and the duodenum’s protective coating which allows the digestive juices to damage and irritate their sensitive linings.

H. pylori is found in almost half of the world’s population, however most individuals who have this bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract do not get any type of illness from it.

Research suggests that there must also be certain other factors present in order for the H. pylori to create an illness and for intestinal damage to happen.

These factors that increase risk for ulcers or gastrointestinal illness include:

  • Abnormal intestinal immune responses
  • Lifestyle habits including smoking, drinking coffee, and continual stress
  • Inheriting certain bacteria strains which are more dangerous than others

When a patient is diagnosed with an ulcer, the doctor should then test the patient for H. pylori by taking blood, tissue, and stool samples.

The doctor can also do a urea breath test where the patient swallows a capsule containing urea which is a chemical consisting of nitrogen and carbon.

symptoms of acid refluxIf there is H. pylori present, the urea will break up and form carbon dioxide.

The carbon dioxide will travel to the lungs and samples of exhaled breath will be collected.

This test is between 94% and 98% accurate.

The doctor may also do an upper endoscopy as well to diagnose H. pylori. Biopsy specimens of the duodenum and stomach are taken and examined in the lab for evidence of H. pylori.

Stool tests may also be used to look for evidence of H. pylori and is also accurate for diagnosing H. pylori.

H. pylori is spiral-shaped and as stated above is found in the stomach and duodenum. It causes inflammation and peptic ulcers.

Thirty to forty percent of the American population is believed to have H. pylori, but fortunately most people never develop any type of symptoms or ulcers.

However, when an individual does develop an ulcer, H. pylori is the leading cause behind the development of the ulcer.

Researchers believe that H. pylori’s characteristics and its shape are the reasons that it causes the damage that leads to the ulcers.

The shape and the way the bacteria move allow them to penetrate the stomach’s and duodenum’s protective mucous lining.

This is where the stomach produces the urease which is the enzyme that generates the substances that neutralizes the stomach’s acids.

When the H. pylori penetrate this protective lining, the stomach cannot produce the urease which inhibits its ability to generate the enzyme that neutralizes the stomach’s acids.

Therefore those acids begin damaging the stomach’s cells and leads to sores and ulcers in the stomach and duodenum.

The first indications that damage is happening is heartburn because excess stomach acid begins backing up the throat causing inflammation and pain.

H. pylori bacteria also attach to the stomach cells which further weakens the stomach’s ability to defend itself and causing inflammation.

Researchers also believe H. pylori can stimulate the stomach to produce more acid, although they are not sure why or how.

H. pylori is typically treated in a variety of ways and treatment is decided by the doctor based on a number of factors:

  • How advanced the illness may be
  • The age, medical history, and overall health of the patient
  • The patient’s tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • The expectations for the course of the disease
  • The patient’s preference or opinions

Treatment may include, but not be limited to:

  • Antibiotics
  • Medications to suppress acid production including
  • Proton pump inhibitors which can block stomach acid production
  • H2-blockers reducing the amount of acid in the stomach and blocking histamine
  • Stomach-lining protectors

‘What bacteria causes heartburn’ is a question medical researchers have studied for a long time and now that they have the answer, hopefully they can begin to develop a cure that will provide relief from the pain caused by this small creature.

 

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