What is H. pylori?
H. pylori is short for helicobacter pylori, and it is a type of bacteria that grows in the stomach and can cause infection. This infection might be a lot more common than you think. With approximately 30-40% of the United States’ population containing the bacteria, there is no question as to how important more research needs to be done to combat it.
If left untreated, H. pylori may cause peptic ulcers, gastritis, or stomach cancer. However, it often does not have any symptoms at all.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Many who contract H. pylori experience no symptoms at all, however when symptoms do occur, here is what you can expect:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Frequent nausea
- Burning or ache in the stomach
- Excessive burping
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive bloating
How do I get H. Pylori?
Contracting H. pylori is common, and even more prevalent in developing countries. Some factors may increase your risk of infection like sharing a small, crowded living space, no access to clean water, and living with someone who has H. pylori.
Some ways to reduce your risk of infection are to wash your hands before eating and after using the bathroom. Eat food that has been properly prepared and drink clean water.
When should I see a doctor?
As a good rule of thumb, you should always see a doctor if you have worsening stomach pains. You should also see a doctor if you have:
- Stomach pain that does not go away
- Trouble swallowing
- Bloody or tarry stool
- Vomit that is bloody or dark brown
Researchers are studying new ways to treat H. pylori infection and ENCORE Research Group is conducting some of these clinical trials. If you would like to help move research and medicine forward, visit our enrolling studies page to see clinical trials that are enrolling now in your area.
Source: U.S. National Library on Medicine, Everyday Health, American Journal of Gastroenterology