H. pylori infection is caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacterium that infects the stomach, particularly during early childhood. H. pylori infection is a common cause of peptic ulcer, present in about half the human population.
Most are not able to detect the infection because they do not experience symptoms or feel sick from it.
If you have any signs and symptoms of a peptic ulcer, you may be diagnosed for H. pylori infection as it can be effectively treated with the use of antibiotics.
Signs and symptoms
In most cases, an H. pylori infection does not cause any signs or symptoms.
However, if signs and symptoms do occur, they may include the following
- Nausea or vomiting
- A burning sensation or an aching pain in the abdomen
- Frequent burping
- Weight loss
When to seek medical attention
See your doctor if any signs and symptoms begin to worry you.
Immediate medical treatment is necessary if you have:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent or severe abdominal pain
- Bloody or black stools
- Bloody or black vomit or vomit resembling coffee grounds
An H. pylori infection can be passed from one individual to another through direct contact of saliva, fecal contents or vomit. The bacteria can also spread via food and water. The infection is usually contracted during early childhood.
H. pylori infection is most common in children and rarely occurs in adults.
The infection is associated with the living conditions of children such as:
- Crowded living conditions
- An unreliable supply of water or food
- Living in a developing country
- Living with a person who has an H. pylori infection
H. pylori infection can be treated with two types of antibiotics that are to be taken at once, so that the chances of the bacteria developing resistance to one antibiotic are decreased.
Your health care provider will also prescribe drugs to suppress acids in the stomach to allow the lining of the stomach to properly heal.
You may also be recommended to go through various tests for H. pylori bacterium several weeks after treatment. If these tests indicate that treatments were ineffective, you may have to be treated once again with another set of antibiotic medication.
In regions of the world where the H. pylori bacteria or infection is common, people may be tested for the infection. Whether it is beneficial to receive early treatment before signs and symptoms kick in is still not certain amongst doctors. However, if you are concerned about contracting the virus or if you suspect that you may have a high risk of developing a peptic ulcer or stomach cancer, see your doctor as soon as possible to decide what treatment method is most suitable for you.