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Quick Facts

Helicobacter pylori Infection


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Mar 2021| Content last modified Mar 2021
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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 and peptic ulcer disease. If H. pylori infection isn't treated, it raises your chance of getting stomach cancer.

  • 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

  • Indigestion

  • 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 (using a flexible viewing tube to look in your stomach)

How do doctors treat H. pylori infection?

Doctors treat H. pylori infection using:

  • Antibiotics

  • 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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