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Suffering from heartburn, indigestion, stomach pain?

These symptoms are usually blamed on things such as stress, diet, or lifestyle choices. When symptoms don’t go away and disrupt your daily life, it could be something more serious called a Helicobacter pylori infection; also known as H. pylori.

It’s important to learn about the risks of having H. pylori and when it’s time to talk with your doctor.

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There is no single symptom of H. pylori.3


Common symptoms include:

stomach-or-abdominal-discomfortstomach-or-abdominal-painbloatingnausearegurgitationheartburnflatulencebelching

Indigestion (dyspepsia)

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stomach-or-abdominal-discomfort

Indigestion – also called dyspepsia or an upset stomach – is discomfort in your upper abdomen.

Stomach or abdominal pain

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stomach-or-abdominal-pain

Abdominal pain can be mild or severe. It may be continuous or come and go. Abdominal pain can be short-lived (acute) or occur over weeks, months, or years (chronic).

Bloating

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bloating

Bloating is the sensation of having a full stomach. Distension is a visible or measurable increase in abdominal size.

Nausea/Vomiting

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nausea

Nausea and vomiting are common signs and symptoms that can be caused by numerous conditions.

Regurgitation

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regurgitation

Regurgitation is the spitting up of food from the esophagus or stomach without nausea or forceful contractions of the abdominal muscles.

Heartburn

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heartburn

Heartburn is a burning pain in your chest, just behind your breastbone. The pain is often worse after eating, in the evening, or when lying down or bending over.

Flatulence

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flatulence

Intestinal gas, a buildup of air in the digestive tract, is usually not noticed until you burp or pass it rectally (flatulence).

Belching

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belching

Belching is commonly known as burping. It’s your body’s way of expelling excess air from your upper digestive tract.

This list is non-exhaustive; provided for information purposes. It is recommended to consult your doctor.

Relieving symptoms is your #1 priority.

Many over-the-counter medications, and even some prescriptions to manage stomach symptoms can provide immediate relief making them easy to take every day. Unfortunately, these medications only provide temporary relief and may hide what’s really going on, such as an H. pylori infection.

Common over-the-counter medications used to relieve symptoms can include:

zantac icon Zantac® (ranitidine)
tagamet icon Tagamet® (cimetidine)
pepcid icon Pepcid® (famotidine)
axid icon Axid® (nizatidine)
prilosec icon Prilosec OTC® (omeprazole)
nexium icon Nexium® (esomeprazole)
prevacid icon Prevacid® (lansoprazole)

* All registered marks are the property of their respective owners.

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Start the conversation

Talk with your doctor about your stomach symptoms and simple testing options for H. pylori. The only way to know if H. pylori is responsible for your stomach symptoms is to get tested.

If H. pylori is the cause of your stomach symptoms, your doctor will decide on a treatment plan and medications.

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Finish medications as prescribed

If you have an H. pylori infection, your doctor will likely prescribe medications such as antibiotics and/or medication to reduce stomach acid. These medications help heal your stomach and get rid of the infection.

It’s important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan and take all the medications as directed.

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Follow-up to get tested again

It’s important to follow up with your doctor after finishing your medications. In some cases, you may be required to complete more than one round of treatment (antibiotics) to take care of the infection. Therefore, your doctor should order a second test once you have completed your medications to confirm the H. pylori infection is gone.

This is the ONLY way to know the infection has been treated successfully; even if your symptoms have gone away.

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Tools to help you prepare for your next appointment

Click to get the tools to start a conversation with your doctor.

What are the symptoms of H. pylori?

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There is no single symptom of H. pylori. Symptoms of H. pylori include:3

  • Heartburn/reflux
  • Nausea
  • Flatulence
  • Belching
  • Indigestion
  • Stomach or abdominal discomfort
  • Stomach or abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Regurgitation

What is H. pylori?

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Helicobacter pylori (hell-ee-ko-back-ter pie-lore-ee), commonly referred to as H. pylori, is a bacteria (germ) that lives in the lining of the stomach and is one of the world’s most common bacterial infections.

How do you get H. pylori? Is it contagious?

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Most people contract H. pylori when they are children and, if left untreated, the infection can last a lifetime. H. pylori can be easily passed from one household member to the next, for example by sharing food. If you or a family member tests positive, the entire family should get tested.

Why should you get tested and treated for H. pylori? Won’t it go away on its own?

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The only way to know if you have an H. pylori infection is to get tested. If you test positive, it is important to get treatment. Untreated H. pylori infections can lead to ulcers and is one of the strongest known risk factors for stomach cancer.

What is an ulcer?

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An ulcer is a sore or hole in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). People of any age can get an ulcer and women are affected just as often as men.

How do you get tested for H. pylori?

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Getting tested for H. pylori is simple. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor will determine if you need a test for H. pylori and provide you with options for testing.

How is an H. pylori infection treated?

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H. pylori infections can be treated with medications such as antibiotics and medications to reduce stomach acid.

Why is it important to finish prescribed medications, even if symptoms have gone away?

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It’s important to follow all medication instructions as prescribed by your doctor. Your symptoms may come back, the infection may not be cured or treated, and it could require taking a second dose of medications. If you have trouble with your treatment plan, contact your doctor for advice.

After finishing treatment, why should you follow up with your doctor to take another test?

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Sometimes H. pylori infections are difficult to cure. Taking a second test to confirm that you are cured will help you feel confident that the infection is gone. A second test can reduce the risk of developing ulcers and prevent symptoms from returning.

Is there a vaccine?

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There is currently no vaccine to protect against H. pylori infection.

References

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1. Fennerty, M. B. Helicobacter pylori: why it still matters in 2005. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 2005; 72(Suppl_2), S1-7. https://doi.org/10.3949/ccjm.72.suppl_2.s1.
2. American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Stomach Cancer. Available at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/stomach-cancer/about/key-statistics.html. Accessed June 9, 2022.
3. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection – Symptoms and causes. (2022, May 5). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/h-pylori/symptoms-causes/syc-20356171
4. Chey, W. D., Leontiadis, G. I., Howden, C. W., & Moss, S. F. ACG Clinical Guideline: Treatment of Helicobacter pylori Infection. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2018; 113(7), p1102. doi: 10.1038/s41395-018-0132-6
5. Centers for Disease Control. MMWR (October 1997) Knowledge About Causes of Peptic Ulcer Disease—United States, March-April 1997. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00049679.htm. Accessed June 9, 2022.

Resources

Justin’s journey with H. pylori

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