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What you need to know about H. Pylori?

What is H. pylori?
image of a person having a stomach ache

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that grows in the inner lining of the stomach. It causes a common stomach infection. It is also a main cause of stomach cancer and some types of lymphoma of the stomach.

H. pylori can be found in about half of the world’s population. Generally, rates of H. pylori infection are higher in developing countries than in developed countries. Some groups of people 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 H. pylori infections occur in 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 long-lasting infection develop symptoms, such as stomach pain, nausea or vomiting. H. pylori can cause long-lasting inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach (gastritis) and stomach ulcers. About 10% to 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).

How is H. pylori spread?

It’s not known for sure how H. pylori spreads, but it’s thought to spread through food that’s not been washed well or cooked properly. People may also get it from drinking water from an unclean source. It may also be passed from person to person through direct contact with the saliva or poo of an infected person.

What are the risk factors for H. pylori?

Risk factors related to H. pylori infection include:

  • crowded living conditions
  • poor sanitation
  • lower socio-economic status

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