Helicobacter Pylori Infection 

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria; infection with this bacteria commonly causes ulcers. Here’s what you need to know about H. pylori treatment and symptoms.

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What is H. Pylori Infection?

Helicobacter pylori, also known as H. pylori, is a bacteria that may cause ulcers to form in infected patients. 

H. pylori infection causes gastritis, duodenal ulcers and less commonly, gastric cancer.

The infection is more common in older people. Studies have shown that most people infected with H. pylori may not have any symptoms.

How H. Pylori Infection Spreads

The precise mode of transmission is not entirely clear. It is postulated that H. pylori spreads from person to person through oral-oral or faecal-oral exposure (such as eating contaminated food). 

In addition, H. pylori may be carried in human saliva and faeces (stools). It is thus common where there is poor sanitation.

How H. Pylori Infection Affects People

H. pylori disturbs the protective layer of mucus in the stomach and this allows enzymes and toxins to damage the stomach cells, making the underlying stomach tissues more vulnerable to damage by digestive juices.

This causes chronic inflammation of the stomach walls (gastritis) which can develop into ulcers. Studies have shown that H. pylori infection increases the risk of cancer. H. pylori infection may also cause dyspepsia (pain or discomfort in the centre of the upper abdomen).

Diagnosis of H. Pylori Infection

The tests available for the detection of H. pylori infection are serological (blood) tests, urea breath test, rapid urease test, histology, culture and stool antigen test.

H. Pylori Infection Treatment

Treatment is needed for all patients with:
Gastric ulcers and duodenal (beginning part of the small intestine) ulcers which are infected with H. pylori
A history of ulcer bleeding or perforation of the stomach

Treatment may be considered (after appropriate investigations) for those with:
Dyspepsia who require long-term treatment with NSAIDs (painkillers)
Dyspepsia without the presence of an ulcer

Treatment involves taking two antibiotics together with a medication that reduces stomach acid for seven days on a twice-daily basis. This medication regimen has a cure rate of 90 percent or more, if closely followed. The entire course of medication must be completed so as to completely cure the infection. 



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