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Helicobacter Pylori Infection

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Definition

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

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.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
  • Review Date: 03/2014 -
  • Update Date: 05/07/2014 -
  • The American College of Gastroenterology

    http://www.gi.org

  • American Gastroenterological Association

    http://www.gastro.org

  • Health Canada

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

  • Ontario Association of Gastroenterology

    http://www.gastro.on.ca

  • Helicobacter pylori. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/aip/research/hp.html. Accessed April 12, 2011.

  • Helicobacter pylori infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 29, 2013. Accessed May 14, 2013.

  • Helicobacter pylori and peptic ulcer disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ulcer/keytocure.htm. Updated September 28, 2006. Accessed May 14, 2013.

  • Travelers health helicobacter pylori. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-3-infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/helicobacter-pylori.htm. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed May 14, 2013.

  • Weyermann M, Rothenbacher D, Brenner H. Acquisition of Helicobacter pylori infection in early childhood: independent contributions of infected mothers, fathers, and siblings. Am J Gastroenterol. 2009;104(1):182-189.