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HealthInfo Canterbury

H. pylori

Helicobacter pylori (usually shortened to H. pylori) is a germ (or bacterium) that can infect your stomach lining. It is much less common in New Zealand than in other parts of the world.

What are the symptoms?

H. pylori can cause indigestion (also called dyspepsia) or it can cause ulcers (sores) in your stomach or small intestine. If ulcers are in your stomach they are called gastric ulcers. If they are in your small intestine they are called duodenal ulcers.

Stomach ulcers can cause indigestion, and more severe cases can cause bleeding in your stomach or perforation (a tear) of your stomach.

In a very small number of people H. pylori can cause stomach cancer.

Is there a test for H. pylori?

tummy painYes, there are several tests for H. pylori.

Before having any of these tests it's important that you don't take any antibiotics, or antacids like omeprazole, for a week or two.

How is it treated?

Most people who have an H. pylori infection need to take three medicines for two weeks. The medicines are two antibiotics (amoxicillin and clarithromycin) and an antacid, which reduces the amount of acid in your stomach (metronidazole).

After treatment, most people have follow-up tests (the urea breath test or faecal antigen test) to make sure the infection has gone away.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by GP liaison, Gastroenterology, Canterbury DHB. May 2017.

See also:

Acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion

Sources

Page reference: 245985

Review key: HIPEP-245983