What is Helicobacter pylori bacteria?

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that grows in the intestines and is responsible for most ulcers and many cases of chronic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach). It can weaken the protective coating of the stomach and upper part of the small intestine, allowing digestive juices to irritate these sensitive linings. As much as half of the world's population is infected with H. pylori. It is passed from person to person and is usually contracted during childhood. Interestingly, many people have this organism in their gastrointestinal tract but don't get an ulcer or gastritis.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that finds its way into your stomach (possibly from food or water) and, for some, causes no problems. However, for others, the results can be devastating.

H. pylori gets into trouble when it dissolves the mucous lining that normally protects your stomach from the acid necessary to digestion. That acid, in turn, damages the cells of your stomach lining just as the sun damages your skin cells, causing irritation, inflammation, and creating the potential for cancerous cell growth.

If you experience ulcer symptoms such as stomach pain, gas, bloating, indigestion, and hunger soon after eating, see your doctor. She can perform a simple breath test to determine if you have H. pylori.Even though many people harbor H. pylori and never develop ulcers or stomach cancer, your doctor may decide to treat you, particularly if you have a family history of gastric cancer.

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Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a common bacterium transmitted by food, water and by mouth. It infects 75% of the world's population, but only 2-20% of people infected with the bacteria will develop ulcers. The reason why is not yet understood, but is thought to depend on the individual's genetic makeup, the strain of H. pylori involved, and other unknown factors.

H. pylori is well-adapted to live in the stomach in spite of exposure to acids. These bacteria secrete an enzyme, urease, that reduces the stomach's acidity, thereby making it a more hospitable environment in which to survive. H. pylori weakens the protective mucous layer which coats the stomach and the duodenum, enabling acid to reach the lower levels of the stomach lining. This causes chronic irritation and inflammation, and invites more bacteria to colonize injured tissue, causing a vicious cycle of irritation and inflammation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.