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Dangerous stomach germs often cause diffuse symptoms in the upper abdomen

Dangerous stomach germs often cause diffuse symptoms in the upper abdomen


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Germ Helicobacter pylori can cause regular discomfort in the upper abdomen

The germ Helicobacter pylori is very common. "In western industrialized countries, 25 to 40 percent of the population are infected," wrote the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in a bulletin. In Germany, about 20 to 30 million people are infected with the germ. In addition to recurrent pain in the upper abdomen, the germ can also trigger gastritis or gastrointestinal bleeding. According to the Center for Cancer Registry Data, Helicobacter pylori still causes eight out of ten gastric cancer cases worldwide.

Most people become infected from childhood through close contact with carriers of the germ. Most of the bacterial transmissions within the families probably take place in the first years of life. The data on the distribution in Germany vary from 21 percent for the greater Hanover area to 44 percent for Saxony-Anhalt. The germ is less common in children than in adults. Infection usually leads to a lifelong survival of the pathogen. With a therapy prescribed by the doctor, the bacterium can be removed in the majority of the patients.

What diseases can the germ cause?

The most common disease that Helicobacter pylori can cause is chronic gastritis. Some of the patients develop gastroduodenal ulcer disease, i.e. a mucosal defect in the stomach or duodenum. The bacterium triggers stomach cancer in less than one percent of those infected. Another rare complication is the appearance of MALT lymphoma, a tumor of the lymphatic system that occurs in the mucous membranes.

How can the germ be removed?

In about a fifth of those infected, symptoms or complications requiring treatment can be expected in the course of the infection. That is about four to six million people in Germany. The national S3 guideline (as of 2018) "Helicobacter pylori and gastroduodenal ulcer disease" of the German Society for Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS) recommends eradication therapy for these diseases. Helicobacter pylori is sensitive to most antibiotics, but treatment is still not easy. First, the effectiveness of the medication in the gastric mucosa is limited. On the other hand, treatment with only one drug is unsuitable because of increasing resistance problems. In addition, the therapy must guarantee complete eradication of the bacterium.

Falling new infections

The center for cancer registry data sees the declining spread of the Helicobacter pylori bacterium as a main reason for the falling new cases and death rates from gastric cancer in Germany and also in other parts of the world. Possible reasons for the decline of this infection are improvements in living conditions and hygiene conditions in infants and young children. (fp)

Author and source information



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