Definition

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria that can infect the stomach and intestines. It can lead to:

    
  • Gastritis, a inflammation of the stomach lining
  • Ulcers
  • Stomach cancer
  • Treatment for H. pylori is done with antibiotics and other medication that relieves symptoms.

    Gastric Ulcer

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    Causes

    This condition occurs when an infected person passes the bacteria to someone else. The bacteria are spread through:

        
  • Fecal-oral contact
  • Oral-oral contact
  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk of h. pylori infection include being in:

        
  • Close contact with an infected person
  • A crowded and unsanitary living environment
  • Symptoms

    In most cases, there are not any symptoms. However, if someone develops an ulcer or gastritis, symptoms may include:

        
  • Abdominal pain that may:     
  • Awaken you from sleep
  • Change when you eat
  • Last for a few minutes or several hours
  • Feel like unusually strong hunger pangs
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloating
  • Black, tarry, or bloody stools
  • Burping
  • Vomiting blood
  • Lightheadedness
  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Tests may include:

        
  • Blood tests
  • Stool test
  • Endoscopy—a thin, lighted tube inserted down your throat to look inside your stomach and to take tissue samples for testing
  • Urea breath test—a test that can help detect if there is a current infection
  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Your doctor may recommend:

        
  • Antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection
  • H-2 blockers
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Antacids
  • Prevention

    To reduce your chances of getting h. pylori infection, take these steps:

        
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating or preparing food.
  • Drink water from a safe source.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking increases the chance of getting an ulcer.