What is Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)?

 

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that infects your stomach tissues and can lead to a variety of intestinal disorders, such as peptic ulcers and gastritis.

 

What Causes Helicobacter pylori?

 

Helicobacter pylori is contagious and can be transmitted from person to person via direct contact with saliva, vomit, or fecal matter. A person can also get H. pylori if they consume contaminated food or water. Risk factors that increase one’s likelihood of getting H. pylori can include living in crowded conditions, lacking clean water, or living with someone who is infected with H. pylori.

 

What are the Symptoms of Helicobacter pylori?

 

H. pylori can damage your stomach and small intestine’s protective lining, leading to ulcers in the stomach. H. pylori can also irritate your stomach, causing inflammation. H. pylori is also a risk factor in developing stomach cancer.

 

Helicobacter pylori symptoms can include:

 

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

  • Loss of appetite

  • Abdominal aches or pains

  • Heartburn

  • Bloating

 

How is Helicobacter pylori Diagnosed?

 

There are a variety of tests available to help diagnose H. pylori.

 

A noninvasive urea breath test can detect the presence of H. pylori bacteria in the body. For this test, the patient would simply ingest a liquid containing urea and provide a sample of their breath. If H. pylori is present, the area will turn into carbon dioxide which will be detected in the breath.

 

H. pylori can also be detected in a stool sample or biopsy.

 

What is the Treatment for Helicobacter pylori?

 

Antibiotics will likely be necessary to kill the H. pylori bacteria. Your doctor may also prescribe drugs to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. The course of treatment is typically 1-2 weeks.

 

It is also recommended to avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain since they can further damage your stomach lining. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

 

While H. pylori is more common in developing countries, it is important to practice good hygiene and to avoid unclean food/water to protect yourself from getting H. pylori.

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