October 10, 2015
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Helicobacter pylori
(H. pylori)

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Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) facts

  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that causes chronic inflammation in the stomach and is a common cause of ulcers worldwide
  • H. pylori causes chronic inflammation (gastritis) by invading the lining of the stomach and producing a cytotoxin termed Vacuolating cytotoxin A (Vac-A); these functions can lead to ulcer formation.
  • Although many infected individuals have no symptoms, other infected individuals may have occasional episodes of:
  • More serious infections cause symptoms of:
  • H. pylori is contagious; however some individuals may be simply colonized with the bacteria and the bacteria cause no disease.
  • The diagnosis of H. pylori infection include antibody tests, urea breath tests, stool antigen tests, and endoscopic biopsies.
  • Chronic infections with H. pylori weakens the natural defenses of the stomach so most individuals with symptoms need to be treated to prevent ulceration formation.
  • H. pylori is difficult to eradicate from the stomach because of antibiotic resistance; consequently, two or more antibiotics are usually given together with a protein pump inhibitor (PPI) medication (for example, omeprazole [Prilosec, Zegerid] or esomeprazole [Nexium])
  • In general, patients should be treated if they are infected with H. pylori and have ulcers. Moreover, patients with MALT lymphoma of the stomach progresses quickly if H. pylori is not treated and eradicated.
  • Because about 50% of the world's population carries or is infected with H. pylori, prevention is difficult; however, recommendations to help prevent ulcers include:
  • Good hand washing techniques with uncontaminated water will reduce chances of infection.
  • Currently, no vaccine is available against H. pylori to prevent either colonization or infection.
  • The prognosis for H. pylori infections is usually good to excellent, but up to 20% may have reoccurring infection. Untreated and more severe infections have a worse prognosis because of the potential for bleeding, anemia, and low blood pressure (hypotension) development.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/6/2015

Source: MedicineNet.com

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