H. pylori infection

Synonyms: Helicobacter pylori

Medical Specialties: Family practice, Gastroenterology, Internal medicine

Clinical Definition

H. pylori is a bacterium that can infect the stomach or duodenum (first part of the small intestine), causing inflammation, irritation and ulcers. Infection with H. pylori is also a risk factor for some gastric cancers. The infection can be treated with antibiotics and acid-reducing medication.

In Our Own Words

H. pylori bacteria can damage the stomach lining and possibly lead to inflammation and ulcers. The infection is also a risk factor for certain kinds of stomach or gastric cancer.


Often, there are no symptoms. However, a simple breath test can detect an active infection. A blood test can also detect the presence of antibodies to H. pylori, which indicates the bacteria were in the body and the immune system has already responded. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have stomach or duodenal ulcers should be tested for H. pylori and if they discover they are infected, should be treated. Those with a family history of stomach cancer may want to discuss H. pylori testing with a health care provider. 

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  • Harvard Health Publications. "Medical Dictionary of Health Terms." http://www.health.harvard.edu. Accessed August 2013.
  • The Cleveland Clinic. "Heliocobactor pylori and Stomach Cancer.” Updated March 2012. http://my.clevelandclinic.org. Accessed August 2013.
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