Helicobacter pylori infections are likely to occur among children in developing countries. Even though infections increase in frequency as individuals get older, many children and adults with the organism do not develop an infection. It is not certain how Helicobacter pylori is acquired, but close contact might play a part as well as transmission via contaminated water and food.
What are the indications?
Once Helicobacter pylori triggers the development of an ulcer, the intensity of the symptoms tend to vary. In some instances, there are no symptoms at all. The ulcers can trigger a burning or distressing discomfort in the stomach that might come and go, often manifesting a few hours after eating or during the night and later subside while eating food and drinking water.
Other symptoms that can manifest include the following:
- Weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite loss
- Blood-streaked vomit and dark stools from bleeding in the stomach or duodenum
When to consult a doctor
A doctor should be seen if a child experiences the following:
- Burning pain in the stomach that is worse in between meals and during the early morning hours and settles after eating.
- Continuous abdominal pain, vomiting, weight loss or appetite loss
- Blood-streaked stools or vomit
The doctor will gather the medical history of the child and require testing. The tests include biopsy of a tissue acquire via an endoscope. The tissue is analyzed in the laboratory for the presence of Helicobacter pylori. In addition, the esophagus, stomach and duodenum are checked with an X-ray film.
The doctor will only start treatment for Helicobacter pylori infections if it has developed to an full-blown ulcer. The combination of antibiotics such as metronidazole, amoxicillin and clarithromycin is usually given to the child to eliminate the bacteria.
The full course should be completed as instructed. The antibiotics are frequently given along with proton pump inhibitors as well as histamine-receptor blockers which disrupt with the release of acid in the stomach.