Helicobacter Pylori (cont.)

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Can H. pylori infections be prevented?

With at least 50% of the world population with detectable H. pylori in their stomachs, it seems likely that with no vaccine available, it will be very difficult or impossible for people to have no exposure to these bacteria. The chance of the organisms causing symptomatic infection is low, but certainly not absent. Currently, suggestions have been made to prevent ulcers, but the effectiveness of these recommendations are unknown. The following is a list of recommendations to help prevent ulcers:

  • Reduce or stop the intake of alcohol
  • Stop smoking
  • Substitute acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) for aspirin for pain control
  • Substitute acetaminophen or other drugs for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Avoid caffeine in coffee and many "power" drinks
  • Check for GI symptoms and treat immediately during or after radiation therapy
  • Identify and reduce or avoid stress
  • Wash hands with uncontaminated water to avoid contracting the bacterium
  • If infected with H. pylori, antimicrobial treatment may avoid ulcer formation and extension of disease

Currently, there is no commercially available vaccine to prevent either infection or colonization of the stomach by H pylori. However, research is ongoing, and the NIH is funding vaccine studies in conjunction with vaccine makers (For example, Helicovax to prevent H. pylori colonization of human GI tracts by EpiVax, Inc.).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/25/2014

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