Peptic Ulcer

New studies have found that levels of the bacterium are up to three times higher in people with COPD.

Among patients with pulmonary conditions is detected by a simple breath test and can treated with antibiotics

  • The bacterium helicobacter pylori often found in pulmonary disease patients
  • It can be detected with a simple breath test and treated with antibiotics
  • May point to new ways of tackling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Levels of the bacteria up to three times higher in COPD patients, study finds

New studies have found that levels of the bacterium are up to three times higher in people with COPD.

Disabling lung disease may be triggered by a common stomach bug, groundbreaking research has found.

The bacterium helicobacter pylori, which is involved in the development of 95% of stomach ulcers, has been found to be common in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The findings may point the way to new ways of tackling COPD, because H. pylori can be detected with a breath test and treated with antibiotics.

New studies have found that levels of the bacterium are up to three times higher in people with COPD, and one theory is that infection in childhood may affect the growth of the lungs, making them more vulnerable to disease.
The discovery, say researchers, could open up the way for new preventive strategies.

‘Our findings raise the tantalising possibility that early eradication of helicobacter pylori in childhood may enable full development of lungs and reduce the risk of COPD later on in life,’ says Professor Don Sin, head of respiratory medicine, St Paul’s Hospital and Professor of Medicine at University of British Columbia, Canada, and senior author of a paper in the medical journal Thorax.

COPD is an umbrella term that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is the fifth-biggest killer and the second most common cause of emergency hospital admissions, and all types lead to severe narrowing and damage to the airways. It affects more than a million Britons.

Smoking is the main cause of COPD, but researchers are now suggesting a role for H. pylori. The bacterium was identified in 1982 but genetic studies have suggested it has been present in humans for 58,000 years.

It mainly colonises the stomach, but evidence is accumulating that it is found at other sites too, including the ears, nose, skin and even the eyes.
It is now known to be responsible for most stomach ulcers and to increase the risk of stomach cancer. But it has also been linked to a larger number of other diseases, most involving inflammation.

A new research review in the World Journal Of Gastroenterology lists associations with a wide range of diseases, including colon cancer, larynx cancer, lymphomas, rosacea, glaucoma, gall bladder disease, auto immune diseases, iron deficiency anaemia, and several conditions of the skin, ears, nose and throat.

Four new studies have now added to the list by linking the bacterium with COPD. Specialists at Tianjin Medical University in China analysed data on 15,000 people including 2,000 with COPD, and found that H. pylori infection was associated with a twofold increased risk of COPD. In addition, doctors at the University of Jinan-Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences, China, gathered data on more than 1,000 people, and showed that those with chronic bronchitis were three times more likely to be infected with the bacterium.

To diagnose an ulcer, your doctor may perform a test called an upper endoscopy (EGD).

  • This is a test to examine the lining of the esophagus (the tube that connects your throat to your stomach), stomach, and first part of the small intestine.
  • It is done with a small camera (flexible endoscope) that is inserted down the throat.

Upper endoscopy is done on most people when peptic ulcers are suspected or when you:

  • Are older than 45 to 50
  • Have a low blood count (anemia)
  • Have trouble swallowing
  • Are vomiting blood or your stools are blood or dark and tarry looking
  • Have been losing weight without trying

Tests for H. pylori also needed:
Your doctor may also order these tests:

  • Haemoglobin blood test to check for anemia
  • Stool occult blood test to test for blood in your stool

Sometimes, you may need a test called an upper GI. A series of x-rays are taken after you drink a thick substance called barium.