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In recent years, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) has been identified by researchers as the cause of the majority of gastrointestinal ulcers. H. pylori is a bacterium that lives in the stomach and duodenum. It has a unique way of adapting to the usually harsh environment of the stomach.
Gastric juice is composed of digestive enzymes and concentrated hydrochloric acid, which can readily digest food or kill microorganisms. Low levels of stomach acid increase the chance an organism's survival. It used to be thought that the stomach contained no bacteria and was actually sterile.
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Acidophilus: A microflora (good bacteria) that acts as a digestive aid and lives in your intestines helping your body fight disease.
Bacteria: Microscopic germs. Some bacteria are "harmful" and can cause disease, while other "friendly" bacteria protect the body from harmful invading organisms.
Cancer: Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.
Chronic: Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.
Crohn's Disease: Chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. The most common symptoms are abdominal pain, often in the lower right area, and diarrhea. Rectal bleeding, weight loss, and fever may also occur. Bleeding may be serious and persistent, leading to anemia.
Duodenum: First portion of the small intestine between the pylorus and jejunum.
Enzymes: Specific protein catalysts produced by the cells that are crucial in chemical reactions and in building up or synthesizing most compounds in the body. Each enzyme performs a specific function without itself being consumed. For example, the digestive enzyme amylase acts on carbohydrates in foods to break them down.
Gastritis: Inflammation of the stomach lining. White blood cells move into the wall of the stomach as a response to some type of injury; this does not mean that there is an ulcer or cancer - it is simply inflammation, either acute or chronic. Symptoms depend on how acute it is and how long it has been present. In the acute phase, there may be pain in the upper abdomen, nausea and vomiting. In the chronic phase, the pain may be dull and there may be loss of appetite with a feeling of fullness after only a few bites of food. Very often, there are no symptoms at all. If the pain is severe, there may be an ulcer as well as gastritis.
Gastrointestinal: Pertaining to the stomach, small and large intestines, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.
Helicobacter Pylori: H. pylori is a bacterium that is found in the stomach which, along with acid secretion, damages stomach and duodenal tissue, causing inflammation and peptic ulcers. Although most people will never have symptoms or problems related to the infection, they may include: dull, 'gnawing' pain which may occur 2-3 hours after a meal, come and go for several days or weeks, occur in the middle of the night when the stomach is empty and be relieved by eating; loss of weight; loss of appetite; bloating; burping; nausea; vomiting.
Hydrochloric Acid: (HCl): An inorganic acidic compound, excreted by the stomach, that aids in digestion.
Immune System: A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.
Peptic Ulcer: A general term for gastric ulcers (stomach) and duodenal ulcers (duodenum), open sores in the stomach or duodenum caused by digestive juices and stomach acid. Most ulcers are no larger than a pencil eraser, but they can cause tremendous discomfort and pain. They occur most frequently in the 60 to 70 age group, and slightly more often in men than in women. Doctors now know that there are two major causes of ulcers: most often patients are infected with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori); others are regular users of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which include common products like aspirin and ibuprofen.
Polyp: A usually nonmalignant growth or tumor protruding from the mucous lining of an organ such as the nose, bladder or intestine, often causing obstruction.
Probiotic: Derived from the Greek word for "life." Probiotic refers to organisms and substances which contribute to intestinal microbial balance. They are beneficial or "friendly" intestinal bacteria.
Stomach: A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach’s mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.
Ulcer: Lesion on the skin or mucous membrane.