A bacteria known as helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) can infect your stomach. H. pylori are adapted to live in the harsh, acidic environment of the stomach. The bacteria causes stomach problems when they penetrate the stomach’s mucous lining and generate substances that neutralize stomach acids, which makes the stomach cells more vulnerable to the harsh acids. H. pylori infections are responsible for the majority of ulcers in the stomach and small intestine. H. pylori infection can be diagnosed by a number of tests including blood tests, breath tests (where one blows into a tube) and with an upper endoscopy (EGD) with biopsy.
Signs & Symptoms:
- Most people with H. pylori don’t have any symptoms, but when the infection leads to an ulcer, symptoms may include upper abdominal pain, changes in appetite, nausea and vomiting, vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds, unexplained weight loss, blood in the stool, or black stool.
An H. pylori infection that isn’t causing you problems may not benefit from any treatments. However, as stomach cancer and ulcers are associated with H. pylori infections, treatment can cure ulcers and reduce your risk of developing stomach cancer. These treatments normally include medication, such as antibiotics, antacids, or PPIs (proton pump inhibitors).