What is Helicobacter pylori?
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are a type of bacteria that infects the inner lining of the stomach. The bacteria spread from eating contaminated water or food. Overcrowding can also help the spread of bacteria.
It is theorized that houseflies might be a factor in spreading the bacteria from place to place.
What are the symptoms of H. pylori infection?
There are no digestive tract symptoms, although those infected with H. pylori are more likely to develop peptic ulcers, which can cause burning pain in the upper stomach. H. pylori has also been implicated in certain types of gastric malignancies. Acute infection can present as nausea/vomiting, stomach upset and diarrhea.
How is H. pylori diagnosed?
Blood or stool samples are tested for the bacteria and analyzed for the enzyme that produced by the bacteria. They may also be noted on biopsy specimens obtained during an upper endoscopy.
How is H. pylori treated?
Antibiotics and other medications are usually needed to eliminate H. pylori infection.
Antibiotic therapy is used to help get rid of these bacteria from the GI tract. A combination of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec along with bismuth preparation (Pepto-Bismol®) are usually prescribed for several weeks.