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Helicobacter Pylori

Illustration of the anatomy of the digestive system, adult

What is Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)?

H. pylori is a spiral-shaped bacterium found in the stomach, which (along with acid secretion) damages stomach and duodenal tissue, causing inflammation and peptic ulcers.

How does H. pylori cause damage?

It is believed that H. pylori's shape and characteristics cause the damage that leads to ulcers.

Because of their shape and the way they move, the bacteria can penetrate the stomach's protective mucous lining where they produce the enzyme urease, which generates substances that neutralize the stomach's acids. This weakens the stomach's protective mucus, makes the stomach cells more susceptible to the damaging effects of acid and pepsin, and leads to sores or ulcers in the stomach or duodenum (first part of the small intestine).

The bacteria can also attach to stomach cells, further weakening the stomach's defensive mechanisms and producing local inflammation. For reasons not completely understood, H. pylori can also stimulate the stomach to produce more acid.

What causes an H. pylori infection?

Researchers do not yet know what causes certain people to develop H. pylori-related symptoms or ulcers.

What are the symptoms of H. pylori-related ulcers?

The following are the most common symptoms of H. pylori- related for ulcers. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.

Soon after being infected with H. pylori, most people develop gastritis - an inflammation of the stomach lining. However, most people will never have symptoms or problems related to the infection. When symptoms are present, they may include the following:

The symptoms of ulcers may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

How is H. pylori diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for H. pylori may include the following:

Treatment for H. pylori ulcers:

Specific treatment will be determined by your child's physician based on the following:

Treatment may include:

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