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Helicobacter Pylori Infection

(H. Pylori Infection)

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

Definition

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

Gastric Ulcer

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Causes    TOP

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    TOP

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    TOP

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    TOP

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    TOP

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    TOP

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.

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

References:

Helicobacter pylori. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed May 13, 2013.
Helicobacter pylori infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated September 8, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Travelers health helicobacter pylori. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
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.
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 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardDaus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 9/22/2014

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