What is Helicobacter pylori infection?
Helicobacter pylori infection is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of your stomach lining and ulcers (sores) in your stomach or intestine. It's often shortened to H. pylori.
H. pylori infection can lead to gastritis Gastritis "Gastric" is a word for stomach, and "-itis" means inflammation. So gastritis is inflammation (irritation) of your stomach lining. It can come and go quickly (acute) or last a long time (chronic)... read more and peptic ulcer disease Peptic Ulcer Disease Your stomach makes a lot of acid, which helps digest food. Normally, the lining of your stomach and intestines has defenses against the acid. If something interferes with those defenses, the... read more . If H. pylori infection isn't treated, it raises your chance of getting stomach cancer Stomach Cancer Cancer is the out-of-control growth of cells in your body. Cells are the tiny building blocks of your body. Cells specialize in what they do. Different organs are made of different kinds of... read more .
The infection is caused by a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori
It's a very common infection—by age 60, about half of people have been infected
H. pylori spreads from person to person through kissing, close contact, and not washing hands after passing stool (poop)
Many people don’t have symptoms, but you may have pain in the upper belly area
Doctors treat H. pylori infection with antibiotics
What are the symptoms of H. pylori infection?
You may not have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they include:
Pain in your upper belly
Belly discomfort (a feeling of gas, a sense of fullness, or burning)
How can doctors tell if I have H. pylori infection?
Doctors suspect H. pylori infection from your symptoms. To know for sure, they'll do tests such as:
Breath or stool tests
Upper endoscopy Endoscopy "Endo" means inside, and "scope" means look. So an endoscope is an instrument doctors use to look inside your body. Endoscopes can also be used to do tests and treat diseases. Endoscopes are... read more (using a flexible viewing tube to look in your stomach)
How do doctors treat H. pylori infection?
Doctors treat H. pylori infection using:
Medicine to lower stomach acid (proton pump inhibitor)
After treatment, doctors will repeat breath or stool tests to make sure the infection is gone.
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