Helicobacter Pylori Infection

( H. Pylori Infection)
  • 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.
  • RESOURCES

    The American College of Gastroenterology http://www.gi.org

    American Gastroenterological Association http://www.gastro.org

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

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

    Ontario Association of Gastroenterology http://www.gastro.on.ca

    References

    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.

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