Is Bacteria Keeping You Awake at Night?
According to Dr Oz, over two-thirds of the world's population have a troublesome bacterial infection called Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) living in their stomach. Although many people manage to live without noticing the side effects of this bad bacteria, others are affected by fatigue, acid indigestion and even stomach ulcers which can keep them awake at night.
How H. Pylori Causes Sickness
Helicobacter Pylori was only identified in 1982. It is a spiral-shaped bacteria which commonly invades the stomach. In some cases these bacteria penetrate the stomach's mucous lining. This allows gastric acids to penetrate the stomach wall, causing small sores, stomach ulcers and may eventually increase the risk of stomach cancer. Research has shown that H. Pylori causes 80% of stomach ulcers and 90% of duodenal ulcers. Both are considered serious medical conditions that need treatment without delay.
Acid can seep through these stomach ulcers and flow up the esophagus causing heartburn, a sore throat and inevitably a restless night. As ulcers bleed, this blood loss can show itself in tarry stools, anemia and fatigue. Other symptoms caused by H.Pylori include inflammation of the stomach lining, commonly known as gastritis.
The H. Pylori infection is thought to be contracted through contaminated food and water. The National Institute of Health in the USA estimates over half of adults aged 60 and above have these bacteria, and the statistics are even higher in developing countries.
Fortunately the majority of sufferers do not experience any serious side effects. The unlucky ones may have symptoms of gastritis or peptic ulcers such as a gnawing, burning sensation in the stomach. The pain is usually much worse when you are hungry. Eating, drinking or taking an antacid generally relieves the symptoms temporarily.
How to Diagnose H. Pylori
Common symptoms indicating the presence of a H. Pylori bacterial infection may include loss of appetite, weight loss, bloating, burping and wind, feelings of nausea, vomiting and black tarry stools.
Many of these symptoms are worse when you lie down, allowing the gastric juices to flow back up the esophagus. This causes heartburn and indigestion to keep you awake at night or cause you to have poor quality sleep. Rather than assuming the symptoms are caused by spicy or rich food, if the problem is recurrent you should consult your doctor.
A quick Urea Breath Test will confirm the presence of a gas which is produced by the bacteria. Other ways to identify the presence of H. Pylori is with a blood test or a stool test. More serious tests such as an endoscopy or an X-ray of the upper gastrointestinal tract will reveal the presence of ulcers.
Treatment of a H. Pylori Bacterial Infection
If the presence of H. Pylori bacteria is caught at an early stage, antibiotics are usually sufficient to kill the bacteria. Those with stomach ulcers will find acid-reducing medications will gradually allow the ulcers to heal. In the meantime, taking an antacid before bed may help prevent the heartburn allowing you to sleep better.