Helicobacter Pylori
H. pylori

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What is Helicobacter pylori?

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that causes chronic inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach (gastritis) in humans. This bacterium also is considered as a common cause of ulcers worldwide; as many as 90% of people with ulcers have detectable organisms.

H. pylori infection is most likely acquired by ingesting contaminated food and water, and through person to person contact. In the United States, about 30% of the adult population is infected (50% of infected persons are infected by the age of 60), but the prevalence of infection is decreasing because there is increasing awareness about the infection, and treatment is common. About 50% of the world population is estimated to have detectable H. pylori in their gastrointestinal tract (GI tract, but stomach, mainly).

The infection is more common in crowded living conditions with poor sanitation. In countries with poor sanitation, approximately 90% of the adult population can be infected. Infected individuals usually carry the infection indefinitely (for life) unless they are treated with medications to eradicate the bacterium. One out of every six patients with H. pylori infection may develop ulcers of the duodenum or stomach. H. pylori also is associated with stomach cancer and a rare type of lymphocytic tumor of the stomach called MALT (mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue) lymphoma. In addition, several recent research papers have shown a link between diabetes, infections, elevated hemoglobin A1C levels, and H. pylori.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/17/2012

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Helicobacter Pylori - Diagnosis Question: How was the diagnosis of your helicobacter pylori established?
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Symptoms and Causes of Bleeding Ulcers

Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

It started with feeling a little run down after working extra hard, perhaps there was some lightheadedness when he stood too quickly, and then came the fatigue. The baseball world blamed Ichiro Suzuki's malaise on playing too much in the World Baseball Classic. During spring training, baseball players are supposed to lounge and gradually get themselves into shape, not play like it's the World Series in October. But the baseball world was wrong. It was discovered in April 2009 that Ichiro was tired because he was anemic and because he was bleeding from an ulcer.

The scenario plays out routinely off the playing field too often. A person feels run down and blames it on all sorts of circumstances, but finally goes to their doctor to get some help. The clues come from the history of heartburn and indigestion, or maybe it was the extra aspirin or ibuprofen to help with the stress headaches at work. There may be a little tenderness in the belly, and after some coercion on the part of the doctor, the patient agrees to a rectal exam. It shows that the stool has occult blood in it (rectal bleeding); that is blood that cannot be seen with the naked eye but shows up with a chemical test. A blood test (CBC) shows that the patient is anemic, meaning there is a low red blood cell count. Put the clues together and the doctor tells the patient that the fatigue and tiredness is due to bleeding....


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