Helicobacter pylori infection (patient information)
Helicobacter pylori infection
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Helicobacter pylori infection is an acute or chronic illness caused by infection of the stomach with the bacterium H. pylori. The infection is mostly without symptoms. Approximately half of worlds population is infected with H. pylori. The disease is characterized by dyspepsia, gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, adenocarcinoma of stomach or MALT lymphoma.
What are the symptoms of Helicobacter pylori infection?
Majority of patients infected are asymptomatic. Symptoms of H. pylori infection include:
- Bad breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chest pain or tummy ache
- Fullness of stomach
- Dark or tarry like stools
- Feeling tired
- Loose stools
What causes Helicobacter pylori infection?
Helicobacter pylori infection is caused by the bacterium H. pylori. The infection occurs in places with overcrowding and poor hygiene. People get the infection by eating or drinking contaminated food or water and through close contact like sharing utensils, drinking glasses and kissing.
Who is at highest risk?
The risk factors include:
- Exposure to contaminated or untreated water
- Exposure to contaminated food
- Living in unhygienic and low socioeconomic conditions
- More common in African American or Hispanic descent and old people
- Close contact with infected saliva ( e.g., kissing, by sharing eating utensils and drinking glasses), feces and vomit
If you have symptoms see your doctor. Tests that may be done include:
- Blood tests
- Breath test
- Tissue test (using an instrument with camera to collect stomach tissue)
When to seek urgent medical care?
Call your health care provider if you develop:
- Indigestion or heartburn not responding to antacids
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chest or tummy pain which is aggravating or relieving with food
- Black stools or blood in vomitus (gastrointestinal bleeding)
- Diet, appetite or weight changes
- Pallor skin, mucous membranes or eyes
- Loose stools
The mainstay of therapy for Helicobacter pylori infection includes appropriate antibiotic treatment which includes:
- Triple drug therapy
- Quadraple drug therapy
Diseases with similar symptoms
- Acute gastritis
- Chronic gastritis
- Atrophic gastritis
- Crohn's disease
- Gastric adenocarcinoma
- Primary gastric lymphoma
Where to find medical care for Helicobacter pylori infection?
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
Early antibiotic treatment is extremely successful and may prevent the development of long-term complications. Untreated infection, however, may lead to gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, gastric adenocarcinoma, and MALT lymphoma.
Untreated infection may lead to gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, gastric adenocarcinoma, and MALT lymphoma. Pseudomembrane colitis is the post treatment complication of H. pylori infection due to PPIs and antibiotics
- Hand washing (antibacterial soaps)
- Avoid contaminated food and water
- Maintain proper hygiene (hand sanitizers, antiseptic washes)
- Avoid close contact with infected family members ( e.g., kissing, by sharing eating utensils and drinking glasses)
- Lee YC, Liou JM, Wu MS, Wu CY, Lin JT (2008). "Eradication of helicobacter pylori to prevent gastroduodenal diseases: hitting more than one bird with the same stone". Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 1 (2): 111–20. doi:10.1177/1756283X08094880. PMC 3002494. PMID 21180520.
- Malfertheiner P, Megraud F, O'Morain C, Bazzoli F, El-Omar E, Graham D; et al. (2007). "Current concepts in the management of Helicobacter pylori infection: the Maastricht III Consensus Report". Gut. 56 (6): 772–81. doi:10.1136/gut.2006.101634. PMC 1954853. PMID 17170018.