H. pylori infections are quite common, afflicting approximately two-thirds of the world’s population at one time or another. In the United States, H. pylori is more prevalent among older adults, African-Americans, Hispanics, and low-socioeconomic groups. Most people who are infected with H. pylori never suffer symptoms related to the bacterium; however, some of those infected may experience abdominal pain/indigestion (dyspepsia).
The bacterium weakens the mucus layer, allowing stomach acid to come into contact with the stomach lining. This acid can damage the stomach or duodenal lining, causing an ulcer. If left untreated, this condition can cause recurrent ulcers and, in some instances, cancer. Persons infected with H. pylori have a significantly heightened risk of developing gastric cancer (adenocarcinoma and lymphoma).
H. pylori is diagnosed and confirmed via a procedure called an upper endoscopy with biopsy. A gastroenterologist passes a tube-like device, called an endoscope, through the throat to view the lining of the stomach. While the appearance of the stomach may suggest gastritis, the diagnosis can only be confirmed with small tissue samples (biopsies) taken through the endoscope. The tissue samples are microscopically examined by a pathologist – a physician who specializes in the diagnosis of disease via microscopic examination of a tissue sample – to determine if gastritis or another condition is present.
Treatment Options for Chronic Gastritis:
In the case of H. pylori, an antibiotic or antibiotic regime is necessary. Frequently, a drug is also used to reduce acid secretions within the stomach. Your clinician will discuss these therapeutic options with you.
Implications of Antibiotic Therapy:
- Discuss with your doctor and/or pharmacist the precautions you should take while on antibody therapy, e.g., as with all antibiotic treatments, birth control pills may become less effective.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure because some antibodies may increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
- Avoid irritants that promote stomach inflammation, such as aspirin, alcohol, anti-inflammatory drugs, and smoking.
- Ask your doctor for dietary information and nutritional counseling.
Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor:
- What will be my treatment for H. pylori gastritis?
- What are the benefits and/or disadvantages of treatment?
- After treatment, what will be my follow-up?
- Is there anything I can do to prevent H. pylori gastritis?
- Once I have completed my treatment, can H. pylori gastritis recur?
This Patient Diagnostic Fact Sheet is provided to you as a service by AmeriPath. It is intended for patient education and information only. It does not constitute advice nor should it be taken to suggest or replace professional medical care from your physician. Your treatment options may vary, depending upon your medical history and current condition. Only your physician and you can determine your best treatment option.