Definition

Helicobacter pylori is a gram-negative, microaerophilic bacterium that infects various areas of the stomach and duodenum.

Diagnosis

Many cases of peptic ulcers, gastritis, duodenitis, and cancers are caused by Helicobacter pylori infections. But, many who are infected do not show any symptoms of disease. Helicobacter pylori's helical shape (from which the genus name is derived) is thought to have evolved to penetrate and favor its motility in the mucus gel layer.

Treatment

Variations of the triple therapy have been developed over the years, such as using a different proton pump inhibitor, as with pantoprazole or rabeprazole, or using metronidazole instead of amoxicillin in those allergic to penicillin. Such a therapy has revolutionized the treatment of peptic ulcers and has made a cure to the disease possible, where previously symptom control using antacids, H2-antagonists or proton pump inhibitors alone was the only option.

Symptoms

Helicobacter pylori is a contagious bacterium. Many researchers think that Helicobacter pylori is transmitted orally by means of fecal matter through the ingestion of waste tainted food or water. A clean and hygienic environment can help decrease the risk of Helicobacter pylori infection.

Causes

Diagnosis of infection is usually made by checking for dyspeptic symptoms and then doing tests which can suggest Helicobacter pylori infection. One can test noninvasively for Helicobacter pylori infection with a blood antibody test, stool antigen test, or with the carbon urea breath test (in which the patient drinks C- or C-labeled urea, which the bacterium metabolizes producing labeled carbon dioxide that can be detected in the breath).