Community Health Systems, Inc.

What is Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori)?

Female doctor with patient

This post was written by Brittany Cruz, MSN, FNP-BC, APNP, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Beloit Area Community Health Center. She currently is accepting new patients.

Brittany Cruz
Brittany Cruz, MSN, FNP-BC, APNP

At our clinic, we have seen an increase in the number of patients being diagnosed with Helicobacter Pylori. Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) is an infection that affects an estimated 30-50% of the population.

While many people who have H. Pylori may not experience any symptoms, for those that do, they may be uncomfortable and progress to life threatening. The infection can lead to stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

H. Pylori is a bacteria that is spread through ingesting food and water that is contaminated with the bacteria; using utensils that have the bacteria; or coming into contact with infected saliva. This infection typically affects adults of all ages and is rare in children.

Common symptoms of H. Pylori

Symptoms can include:

  • bloating
  • generalized stomach pain
  • burping
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • not being hungry
  • or if you feel you are using antacids and they just aren’t helping any longer

Call your provider if you experience worsening symptoms. Seek immediate medical attention if you have symptoms such as bloody vomit, blood in your stools, or black, tarry-looking stools.

Testing for H. Pylori

Testing for H. Pylori can include blood work, an H. Pylori urea breath test, and/or a stool antigen test. Once found positive, eradication therapy is initiated which can include multiple oral antibiotics and therapies at the same time. An evaluation one month after treatment is recommended, as the bacteria can be resistant to some of the medication regimens.

How to prevent H. Pylori

Patients can prevent H. Pylori by following these steps:

  • Washing hands before eating
  • Washing fruits and vegetables before eating them

Reinfection rates are rare after a successful treatment.

If you suspect you may have H Pylori, it is important you make an appointment with your doctor and be ready to explain your symptoms including when they started, and any over the counter remedies you have tried. For more information, please contact our clinic at (608) 361-0311.