Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) is a spiral-shaped type of bacteria. These germs can enter your body and live in your digestive tract in the lining of your stomach or the upper part of your small intestine. After H. pylori enters your body, it attacks the lining of your stomach, which usually protects you from the acid your body uses to digest food. Once the bacteria have done enough damage, acid can get through the lining, which leads to ulcers. These may bleed, cause infections, or keep food from moving through your digestive tract. For some people, an infection can lead to stomach cancer.
You can get H. pylori from food, water, or dirty utensils. It’s more common in countries or communities that lack clean water or good sewage systems. You can also pick up the bacteria through contact with the saliva or other body fluids of infected people.
If you have an ulcer, you may feel a dull or burning pain in your stomach. It may come and go, but you’ll probably feel it most when your stomach is empty, such as between meals or in the middle of the night. It can last for a few minutes or for hours. You may feel better after you eat, drink milk, or take an antacid.
- Blood antibody test: A blood test checks to see whether your body has made antibodies to H. pylori bacteria. If you have antibodies to H. pylori in your blood, it means you either are currently infected or have been infected in the past.
- Urea breath test: A urea breath test checks to see if you have H. pylori bacteria in your stomach causing an infection. It can also be used to see if treatment has worked to get rid of H. pylori.
- Stool antigen test: A stool antigen test checks to see if substances that trigger the immune system to fight an H. pylori infection (H. pylori antigens) are present in your feces (stool). Stool antigen testing may be done to help support a diagnosis of H. pylori infection or to find out whether treatment for an H. pylori infection has been successful.