Helicobacter pylori

What is a Helicobacter Pylori?

Helicobacter pylori, (pronounced HELI-co-back-ter pie-Lorrie) also called H. pylori is a spiral shaped bacterium. It lives in the stomach and duodenum. The duodenum is the section of intestine just below stomach.

Helicobacter pylori has a unique way of adapting in the harsh environment of the stomach. It protects itself by covering itself with the mucus of the stomach. Once it is covered with mucus, it is able to fight the stomach acid that does reach it with an enzyme it possesses called urease.

Because of its spiral shape and the way it moves, H. pylori can penetrate the protective lining of the stomach. When it penetrates the stomach, excess acid can irritate the stomach and duodenum (pronounced Doo-o-DEE-num) eventually causing an ulcer.

When an ulcer has healed, it is likely to come back within a year. When H. pylori is completely eliminated from the digestive tract, the chances that the ulcer will return are greatly reduced.

How common is H. pylori?

H. pylori is very common. About 2/3 of the world’s adult population are infected with it. Almost everyone who has a duodenal ulcer has H. pylori, but not everyone that has H. pylori develops an ulcer.

How do people become infected with H. pylori?

H. pylori can be spread through contaminated food or water.

What illnesses besides ulcers does H. pylori cause?

H. pylori can cause chronic and severe inflammation of the stomach, wasting away of the stomach’s mucous layer. People with H. pylori are morel likely to develop gastric cancer than people who are not affected with H. pylori.

What can you do to prevent H. pylori infection?

The source of H. pylori is not yet known. However, it is always wise for persons to wash hands thoroughly, to eat food that has been properly prepared, and to drink water from a safe, clean source. These methods may help you from getting a H. pylori infection.