Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria
that is a major cause of stomach (gastric) and upper small intestine (duodenal)
ulcers. Infection with H. pylori may also increase the
risk of stomach cancer.
H. pylori bacteria can cause ulcers by
growing in the lining of the stomach, producing inflammation and causing the
stomach and intestinal lining to be more easily damaged by stomach acid. But most people
infected with H. pylori do not develop ulcers. An additional factor—one that cannot always be identified—may be
needed to cause an ulcer to form. Such factors may
H. pylori bacteria can be eliminated by
taking certain antibiotics that are specifically directed at this
People who have had a peptic ulcer and are infected with
H. pylori need treatment to cure the infection to lower
their risk of getting another peptic ulcer. Treatment with a combination of
medicines is highly successful at curing an H. pylori
infection.1 Sometimes H. pylori bacteria are
resistant to certain antibiotics, which can keep the
medicine from killing the bacteria.
For some people who have taken medicine to treat the H. pylori infection, a follow-up test may be needed to make sure the infection is cured.
Chey WD, et al. (2007). American College of
Gastroenterology guideline of the management of Helicobacter pylori infection. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 102(8): 1808–1825.
January 4, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology
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