What You Need to Know About H. Pylori — One of the Most Common Causes of Stomach Ulcers?


This is part one of a three-part series on the bacteria known as H. pylori, the most common bacterium responsible for causing stomach ulcers.

Helicobacter pylori, better known as H. pylori, is a bacteria found in the stomach and is known to cause ailments like ulcers, chronic gastritis, and lymphoma. The bacteria’s ability to adhere to the mucus membrane of the stomach and ability to move throughout it, along with its hardiness is what allows the organism to survive and cause internal problems in individuals. H. pylori is the most common bacterial infection in human beings. Risk of contracting H. pylori is relative to socioeconomic status and living conditions when one is young.  However, those living in developing countries have a higher chance of infection than those living in industrialized countries. Common ways one can be exposed to this bacteria is through a person’s saliva, feces, or vomit. It can also be contracted through the consumption of contaminated food and water.

Helicobacter pylori was first discovered in 1982 by Dr. Barry Marshall and Dr. Robin Warren of Perth, Western Australia. During that time, it was thought that no bacteria could live in the harsh environment of the stomach. This idea was cast aside, however, once H. pylori was found in the stomachs of patients suffering from stomach ulcers and gastritis. For their efforts both doctors were awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

Over 80% of those infected with H. pylori are asymptomatic, meaning they do not show any symptoms associated with the disease, at least initially. But once manifested, acute infection may appear as acute gastritis with stomach aches. When chronic infection has occurred, symptoms of dyspepsia begin to show including bloating, burping, vomiting, nausea, and black stool. People infected with H. pylori have a higher chance of developing peptic ulcers (10-20%) and a slight chance of developing stomach cancer, about 1-2%.

Stay tuned for Part Two of the series to learn more about how physicians test for H. Pylori.

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net / Marin

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