What is H. Pylori?
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that is found almost everywhere in our environment. When H. Pylori infects the stomach lining it can produce symptoms, ulcers, and in rare cases even stomach cancer.
Is H. Pylori contagious?
This bacterium is not generally considered to be contagious in the conventional sense. You are unlikely to pass it on to someone else by just direct contact. H. Pylori is transmitted by what we call the “fecal-oral” route, essentially consuming contaminated food.
How common is H. Pylori in patients with ulcers?
H pylori are one of the leading causes of ulcers, but there are many other causes of ulcers. H. pylori infection and H. pylori-related ulcers are more common in the developing world.
What are the symptoms of H. Pylori?
H. Pylori does not usually produce symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can be vague abdominal discomfort, belching, bloating. Infrequently, H. Pylori can cause serious pain from ulcers and even bleeding.
How is H. Pylori diagnosed?
Several tests are available to diagnose H. pylori: blood, stool, breath testing, and stomach biopsies (which we do at the time of an upper endoscopy or camera test).
How is H. Pylori treated?
Treatment usually involves a combination of antibiotics and an acid blocking medicine like omeprazole (Prilosec). There are many different possible regimens and selection of antibiotic regimen is decided on a case-by-case basis.
What happens after treatment?
In most cases, a test is done after treatment to make sure that H. Pylori has been successfully treated. This is usually a simple stool test. The stool test is obtained about 4 weeks after treatment. We do this because the medications that are used to treat H. Pylori infection can interfere with the stool test and cause the stool test to be falsely negative.
How can I prevent myself from getting an H. Pylori again?
Recurrent H. Pylori infection is rare. Good hand washing practices are probably the best way to prevent infection.