Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection is very common, affecting approximately 2/3 of the world’s population at one time or another. In the US, H pylori is more prevalent in the older adults, African American’s, Hispanics and Asians.
What is H pylori and why is it important?
H pylori is a bacterium that can live in the protective mucus layer of the stomach. Most people who are infected with H. pylori may never suffer from symptoms related to the bacteria. However, some of those may experience abdominal pain, indigestion or develop ulcers. In fact, H pylori is responsible for more than 90% of the duodenal ulcers and up to 80% of the gastric ulcers. H pylori may also cause stomach cancer.
How is H pylori diagnosed?
There are several ways to diagnose H pylori. The most common way to diagnose H pylori is by collecting of breath sample or by stool test. The blood test is not very accurate in diagnosing active H. pylori infection. Upper endoscopy and biopsy of the stomach can also detect H pylori infection.
How is H pylori treated?
You will need a two-week course of antibiotics in combination with acid reducing medication to get rid of the infection. It is always important to have a follow up breath test or stool test to make sure that the infection is completely eradicated.