Helicobacter Pylori Infection

(H. Pylori Infection)

Pronounced: hel-lick-o-back-ter pie-lor-ee in-fek-shun

Definition

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

Gastric Ulcer

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Causes

Bacteria can be spread from person to person. It can spread through contact with an infected person's:

  • Saliva
  • Feces

It may also be spread through infected food or water.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chances of H. pylori infection include:

  • Close contact with an infected person
  • A crowded and unsanitary living environment
  • Poor hand washing habits, especially in childcare / diapers

Symptoms

H. pylori may not cause symptoms. Problems cause by this infection can cause ulcer or gastritis. Symptoms of these conditions 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 past health. A physical exam will be done.

Tests may include:

  • Urea breath test—looks for gases made by H. pylori in your breath
  • Look for signs of H. pylori through:
    • Blood tests
    • Stool test
  • Endoscopy—a tube is passed down the throat. A sample of fluid or tissue will be removed. Lab tests will show if H. pylori is there.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to get rid of H. pylori. Antibiotics will treat the infection.

Damage to the stomach may take some time to heal. Symptoms may be managed with medicine such as:

  • H2 blockers
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Antacids

Tests for H. pylori may need to be repeated. They will make sure the infection is gone. Scopes of the stomach may also be repeated to make sure the area is healing.

Prevention

H. pylori may be spread through food and water. Steps to prevent this type of infection include:

  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom. Wash before eating or making meals.
  • Drink water from a safe source.

RESOURCES:

American College of Gastroenterology
http://patients.gi.org
American Gastroenterological Association
http://www.gastro.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
https://www.cag-acg.org
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
http://www.cdhf.ca

References:

Helicobacter pylori infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated December 27, 2017. Accessed April 4, 2018.
Travelers health: Helicobacter pylori. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/helicobacter-pylori. Updated June 12, 2017. Accessed April 4, 2018.
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.
9/22/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed... : Fuccio L, Zagari RM, Eusebi LH. Meta-analysis: Can Helicobacter pylori eradication treatment reduce the risk for gastric cancer? Ann Intern Med. 2009;151(2):121-128.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 1/7/2019

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