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Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that grows in the inner lining of the stomach (mucosa). H. pylori causes a common stomach infection. It is also an important cause of stomach cancer and some types of lymphoma of the stomach.
H. pylori infection is common. Generally, rates of H. pylori infection are higher in developing countries than in developed countries. Some Canadians have much higher infection rates, including First Nations communities and immigrants from countries such as Japan, Korea and China, where there is a high incidence of H. pylori infection.
Most people are infected with H. pylori during childhood. H. pylori infection usually lasts for life unless it is treated. Most people infected with H. pylori don’t have any symptoms or health problems related to the bacterium. Some people with chronic infection develop symptoms, such as stomach pain, nausea or vomiting. H. pylori can cause chronic inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach (gastritis) and stomach ulcers. About 10%–15% of people with H. pylori infection develop peptic ulcer disease (sores or ulcers in the lining of the stomach or duodenum of the small intestine).