What is Helicobacter Pylori?

women holding her stomach due to abdominal pain

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacterium that infects the stomach. It weakens the protective coating of the stomach and first part of the small intestine, allowing digestive juices to irritate the sensitive lining. This can cause inflammation, chronic gastritis, and ulcers in the stomach or small intestine.

About two-thirds of the world’s population is infected with Helicobacter Pylori, but most don’t know they have the bacterium.

What Causes Helicobacter Pylori?

While the exact cause of H. pylori infection is unknown, experts believe that the bacterium can be passed from person-to-person, or through contact with stool or vomit. It may also be ingested through contaminated foods or water.

It’s not clear how to prevent infection but practicing good hygiene can help protect you.

What are the Symptoms of Helicobacter Pylori?

Carriers of H. pylori are typically asymptomatic. However, if a patient has an ulcer or gastritis, they may experience abdominal pain, indigestion, bloating, mild nausea, belching and regurgitation, or feel very hungry one to three hours after eating.

Those with H. pylori infections may be more likely to develop cancer in the stomach, including mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma.

What is the Treatment for Helicobacter Pylori?

H. pylori is treatable with antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, and histamine H2 blockers. Once the bacteria are completely gone from the body, the chance of its return is low.

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