Helicobacter Pylori

Helicobacter pylori: An Overview

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria responsible for chronic gastritis and ulcers. These infections are acquired in adulthood and can cause inflammation of the stomach lining and a range of other digestive symptoms. H. pylori is very common and can be found in 1/3 of the population worldwide. The bacteria is found mainly in the mucous layer of the stomach or in the saliva.

H. pylori infections can be acquired through person-to-person contact or from contaminated food or water. Other risk factors include poor hygiene, travel, and crowded living conditions. Treatment typically involves a course of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

Signs and Symptoms

Common symptoms of H. pylori include abdominal pain, bloating, belching, heartburn, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. Compromised immunity, long-term antibiotic use, and chronic diseases such as diabetes can increase the risk for developing an H. pylori infection and associated digestive complications.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis of H.pylori typically requires endoscopy or stool sample for testing, as well as a specialized x-ray called an “upper GI series” or a “barium swallow test.” Once the diagnosis is confirmed, treatment consists of antibiotics to kill the bacteria and PPIs to reduce symptoms. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as avoiding sugars, smoking, and alcohol can decrease the severity of symptoms.


Untreated H. pylori infections can lead to long-term complications. These include:

  • Gastritis
  • Upset stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hemorrhage in the stomach
  • Bacterial infection in the intestines
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Gastric cancer

For individuals who experience symptoms of H. pylori, or who meet the criteria for diagnosis, treatment is typically highly successful. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention in order to avoid long-term complications of this infection.