Helicobacter Pylori (H.pylori)

H. pylori is a bacterium (germ) that can infect the human stomach. Its significance for human disease as first recognised in 1983. The bacterium lives in the lining of the stomach, and the chemicals it produces causes inflammation of the stomach lining. Infection appears to be life long unless treated with medications to eradicate the bacterium.

How is H.pyrlori diagnosed?

Accurate and simple tests for the detection of H. pylori infection are available:

Breath Tests
A breath test shows if you are infected by analysing a sample of your breath. Breath tests are accurate, safe, simple and quick to perform. They are a particularly useful test to check whether the infection has been successfully treated. Accuracy is reduced if you have been taking certain medications (e.g. antibiotics in the previous month and some ulcer-healing drugs in the previous one to two weeks).

Blood Tests
These can detect current or recent infection. They are not useful for checking whether the infection has been successfully treated because the antibody to H. pylori (the marker of the body's response to infection) remains in the blood for years.

The infection may be found at the same time as apeptic ulcer, with a test called endoscopy (also known as gastroscopy). During endoscopy your doctor passes a flexible tube into your stomach which allows small samples to be taken. H. pylori can be detected by a number of methods – including looking at samples under a microscope, using a chemical reaction (rapid urease test) or growing it in the laboratory. Sampling that misses the H. pylori, or recent use of antibiotics or drugs that treat ulcers can cause false negative results.

Simple Poo Tests
It is also possible to check for H. pylori using a sample of bowel motion. This method is used to check children.