what it is, the main causes, symptoms and treatment

If you have ever had an endoscopy, a test that examines the digestive tract with a camera, you may come across the term. H. pylori. THE Helicobacter pylori (Or just H. pylori) is a bacterium in the stomach of some people and causes inflammatory processes such as gastritis, peptic ulcer and gastric cancer in some cases.

Usually, this bacterium infects the organ in childhood and causes it to survive in the stomach. It can attack the stomach wall, which can lead to injury.

It is calculated H. pylori it is 40% of the adult population, but it does not always cause disease or complications. However, some people are more likely to develop stomach lesions when they are infected with this bacterium.

The bacterium was first identified by Barry Marshall and Robin Warren in 1983 in Australia. This discovery won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for scientists in 2005.

Below are the main questions, symptoms, treatment methods, and risk factors for H. pill.

H. pylori: what it is, symptoms and how to treat it

What is H. pylori?

THE H. pylori or Helicobacter pylori It is a type of bacterium that enters the body and enters the digestive tract. Over the years, it can cause stomach upset, such as gastritis and pain, called ulcers, in the stomach lining or in the upper part of the small intestine.

The WHO (World Health Organization) considers it a carcinogenic agent, which in some cases can still be a risk factor for stomach cancer. Most people live with that H. pylori without symptoms. It is important to remember that humans are the only host of this bacterium.

How is it transmitted?

Infection H. pylori It occurs most often in childhood, before the age of 10 years. Low socioeconomic status, coupled with poor housing and hygiene conditions, facilitates the onset of the problem.

Transmission of this bacterium occurs when it comes into contact with contaminated feces, saliva, food and water. It can spread from person to person, especially when the hands are not properly washed after evacuation, or when sharing personal items such as cutlery and glasses.

What are the main symptoms of H.pylori?

The bacterial infection itself is asymptomatic. What happens is that being in the stomach causes inflammation of the mucosa and causes dyspepsia as the main symptom, which is pain, nausea, burning and indigestion of the stomach.

Weight loss, intestinal bleeding, starvation and vomiting are later symptoms of the disease. In these cases, the health conditions are usually more severe and indicate gastric cancer.

However, it is important to remember that these symptoms are also present in many other diseases, and that they need to be properly investigated before they can be attributed to infection with this bacterium.

How is the diagnosis made?

There are several ways to detect infection H. pylori. Most often, the diagnosis is made by upper digestive endoscopy, when small parts of the stomach wall are removed to assess the presence of bacteria with a microscope after the material has been prepared. This test is known as a biopsy.

Also, through endoscopy, it is possible to do what is called ureaseremove a small portion of the stomach wall and insert it into a small container with a clear liquid containing urea.

A third test is the breath test, which is performed after giving an oral juice of juice and a tablet marked urea. carbon-13, is an odorless and tasteless substance that does not pose a health risk. This is a more expensive study and not so cheap.

Stool and blood tests may also be required to verify presence H. pylori antibodies that act on the body or against bacteria.

How is H. pylori treated?

Because it is a bacterium, the treatment involves the administration of antibiotics, which are linked to a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors that reduce stomach acidity. Drugs should be used for one week and 14 days.

After treatment, you should wait a few weeks and try again to see if the bacteria is gone. If the person still has it H. pylori, a new treatment should be indicated. In most cases, a single round of antibiotics is needed to clear the infection.

What are the risk factors?

Infection H. pylori it is more common in populations with poor living conditions, poor sanitation, and low family incomes. This is because the main sources of pollution are contaminated and shared objects, as well as the lack of treated water and sewage.

This is why pollution usually occurs in childhood, and more often affects the population living in poverty.

It is known that people with a first-degree relative (father or mother) who have had gastric cancer or ulcers, they have a higher risk of developing the infection H. pylori.

People who smoke or take a lot of anti-inflammatory drugs if they are infected H. pyloristomach or duodenal ulcers as well as a higher risk of cancer.

Can it be prevented?

Yes. Developed countries with good health conditions have low rates of bacterial infection H. pylori.

Some types of prevention:

  • Don’t share glasses and cutlery;
  • Proper hand hygiene after headaches and eating or handling food;
  • Be careful to maintain and prepare food to avoid contamination;
  • Make sure the water you consume is safe to drink.

What should the diet of someone with H. pylori look like?

There is no specific diet for those infected by this microorganism. There are some recommendations for people with lesions caused by this bacterium, such as gastritis or ulcers.

In such cases, spicy foods, peppers, tomato sauce, fries and fatty items should be avoided. Coffee use should be moderate.

In the treatment of bacterial eradication, probiotics can be used to prevent the sensations of gas and diarrhea, symptoms that are common when using antibiotics. Always prefer a balanced diet to vegetables, vegetables, lean meats, cereals and in nature.

Why does H. pylori increase the risk of stomach cancer?

Bacterial contamination H. pylori It also increases the risk of stomach cancer. When fixed inside the organ it can cause gastritis and ulcers. And in some cases, it causes a chronic inflammatory process, which increases the risk of developing this type of tumor.

However, a number of environmental factors, including smoking and malnutrition, are also risk factors for stomach cancer.

When to see a doctor?

Make an appointment with your gastroenterologist as soon as you notice any signs and symptoms that may indicate gastritis or an ulcer.

So seek a specialist when you experience abdominal pain, vomiting, changes in stool, loss of appetite, and smoking or nausea after eating.


Henrique PerobelliGastroenterologist and proctologist of the São Camilo Hospital Network in São Paulo; Auzelívia Rego, Gastroenterologist and hepatologist HUOL-UFRN (Onofre Lopes University Hospital of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte) within the Ebserh network; and Vanessa Pradodigestive tract surgeon and physician at the Digestive System Specialties Center (SP) at Nove de Julho Hospital.

Leave a Comment