AMITA Health Endoscopy Center Lincoln Park

H. Pylori Gastritis

Overview

Helicobacter pylori or H pylori is a type of bacteria that is very common in stomachs around the world – it’s one of the most common human infections. H pylori is usually passed person-to-person (such as through saliva) or through contaminated water or food. Most of the time, it causes no symptoms and just lives peacefully in the mucus layer on the inner lining of the stomach.

When symptoms do exist, doctors believe the susceptibility to the bacterium is either genetic or due to lifestyle choices such as poor diet (too much meat, salt, fat, sugar) and smoking. Advanced age is also a risk for symptomatic H pylori. Symptoms usually occur when a stomach ulcer has formed.

Diagnosis is established with various tests. These tests include blood, breath and stool tests. An upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy with tissue sample (biopsy) is a common and helpful test. The endoscopy involves a tube with a camera that is lowered down into and through the esophagus to get into the stomach. The esophagus is the muscular tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Once in the stomach, the lining is viewed by the camera and a biopsy is taken.

Symptoms

  • Aching or burning abdominal pain that may be worse after eating
  • Bloating and a feeling of fullness in the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Frequent burping
  • Weight loss

Treatments

Acid suppressors. Acid-reducing medication will likely be prescribed by your provider. Stomach acid can irritate your stomach and esophageal linings. The most common medications to reduce acid are proton pump inhibitors or PPIs. Esomeprazole (Nexium) is an example of a PPI. Others include H-2 blockers such as famotidine (Pepcid).

Antibiotics. Usually, a combination of 2 antibiotics is used to treat the bacteria. The entire course of antibiotics should be completed. Once the bacteria are treated successfully by the antibiotics, they are unlikely to return.

Prevention

Hygiene. Good handwashing, especially with food preparation. Only eating foods that have been cooked completely. Have children avoid sharing drinking glasses or toothbrushes since the infection is usually acquired in childhood and can be spread through saliva.

Better lifestyle choices. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. Eat more food with probiotics such as yogurt. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Eat less meat, salt, fat and sugar. Avoid processed foods, junk food and fried foods.