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Helicobacter Pylori
(H. pylori)

Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) Quick Overview

  • H. pylori bacteria burrow into the cells of the stomach lining and cause low grade inflammation. H. pylori is the most common cause of gastric ulcers and gastritis.
  • Ten percent of those infected with H. pylori may develop an ulcer. Also, those infected have an increased risk of stomach cancer and lymphoma.
  • Symptoms of H. pylori infection include
  • The presence of the H pylori bacteria in the stomach may decrease the prevalence of esophagitis by decreasing the amount of stomach acid that refluxes back into the esophagus. This in turn leads to a decreased risk for esophageal cancer in those infected with H. pylori.
  • H. pylori bacteria are found most frequently in underdeveloped countries; but with improved economic conditions, the rate of infection in the population decreases. The infection rate in the United States is between 20%-30%, however, it is higher in Hispanics, African Americans, and the elderly.
  • H. pylori is diagnosed by tests performed on blood, breath, or stool.
  • Treatment for H. pylori involves antibiotics to eradicate the infection as well as medications to decrease the amount of stomach acid.
  • Personal hygiene an important preventive measure to decrease the risk of decreasing human-to human-transmission of H. pylori .
  • The prognosis for H. pylori is good in most cases. Many infections are mild and produce few, if any, symptoms. Those with severe infection and ulcers have a more guarded prognosis since ulceration can lead to bleeding and other damage.

Whatis H. pylori infection?

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria responsible for widespread infection with more than 50% of the world's population infected, even though most of those infected have no symptoms. H. pylori infection is associated with low grade inflammation of the stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine that empties the stomach).

The bacteria has evolved to survive in the acidic environment of the stomach where enzymes digest food.

What causes H. pylori infection?

While the exact mode of transmission H. pylori is not known, it seems to be spread from person to person by saliva, and most people who are infected become infected as children. It also has the potential to be spread by fecal contamination. This may explain why the rate of infection is so high in poorer countries and in socio-economic groups characterized by crowded living conditions, poor sanitary conditions, and lack of clean water. Personal hygiene is also very important since food preparers who may not perform adequate hand washing may be potential sources of infection.

As mentioned above, most people who become infected do so in childhood. After being ingested, the bacteria burrow through the protective mucosa that lines the stomach to attach to deeper layers of the stomach, where they can reside for years without causing symptoms.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/20/2015

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Helicobacter Pylori Infection »

In 1983, Warren (a biologist) and Marshall (a clinician) described Helicobacter pylori (HP).

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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