Helicobacter Pylori

Helicobacter Pylori

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Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori)

Helicobacter Pylori—H. Pylori—is a bacterium (germ) that can infect the human stomach.

Its significance for human disease was first recognised in 1983. The bacterium lives in the lining of the stomach, and the chemicals it produces cause inflammation of the stomach lining.

Infection appears to be life-long, unless treated with medications to eradicate the bacterium.
Helicobacter Pylori — Highfields Gastroenterology in Port Macquarie, NSW

How is H. Pylori diagnosed?

Accurate and simple tests for the detection of H. Pylori infection are available:
  • Breath Tests
  • A breath test shows if you are infected. Analysing a sample of your breath, breath tests are accurate, safe, simple and quick to perform. The test is particularly useful when checking to see whether the infection has been successfully treated. Accuracy will be compromised if you take certain medications (e.g. antibiotics in the previous month and some ulcer-healing drugs in the previous one to 2 weeks).

  • Blood Tests
  • These can detect current or recent infection. Blood tests 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.
  • Endoscopy
  • The infection may be found at the same time as a peptic ulcer, with a test called endoscopy (also known as gastroscopy). During endoscopy, your doctor would pass a flexible tube into your stomach that allows small samples to be taken. H. Pylori can be detected by a number of methods, including studying samples under a microscope, using a chemical reaction (rapid urease test), or growing it in the laboratory. False negative results can follow sampling that misses the H. Pylori, or recent use of antibiotics or drugs that treat ulcers.

  • 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.