Helicobacter Pylori

This unusual name Helicobacter Pylori or commonly H. Pylori identifies a specific bacteria that can cause infection of the stomach. This infection can contribute to the development of diseases, such as dyspepsia (heartburn, bloating and nausea), gastritis (inflammation of the stomach), and ulcers in the stomach and duodenum. H. pylori are a fragile bacteria that has found an ideal home in the protective mucous layer of the stomach. These bacteria attach to the underlying stomach cells. These bacteria do not actually invade the stomach cells but the infection, however, is very real and it does cause white blood cells move into the area, and the body even develops H. pylori antibodies in the blood.

There are currently three ways to diagnose H. pylori infection. During endoscopy, tissue taken by biopsy forceps can be examined for the bacteria. A breath test is now available. In this test, a substance called urea is given by mouth. A strong enzyme in the bacteria breaks down the urea into carbon dioxide, which is then exhaled and can be measured. And finally, there is a blood test that measures the protein antibodies in the blood against these bacteria, but this test is not very accurate to diagnose H. pylori infection.

Treatment

H. pylori infection has been associated with gastritis, stomach and duodenal ulcers and has been considered causative factor in development of these conditions. These ulcers heal with acid reducing medicines but frequently recur if associated H. pylori infection is not treated. Stomach carcinoma (cancer) and lymphoma are now known to be related to H. pylori bacteria and eradication of the bacteria is advised.

Since the infection is so common, it is sometimes recommended that no helicobacter pylori treatment be given when there are no helicobacter pylori symptoms. However, these recommendations may change as more research develops. Increasingly, physicians are treating the acute ulcer with acid-reducing medicines and treating the infection with antibiotics.

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