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What is H Pylori?

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Updated June 26, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What is H Pylori?
Answer:

H. pylori (helicobacter pylori) is a bacteria responsible for most ulcers (gastric and duodenal) and many cases of chronic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach). This bacteria can weaken the protective coating of the stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestines), allowing digestive juices to irritate their sensitive linings.

Many people have this bacteria in their stomachs, but don't develop an ulcer or gastritis. Coffee, alcohol, and smoking have been associated with an increased risk for an ulcer from H. pylori.

Despite popular belief, spicy foods and stress don't causes ulcers. While some people feel that these worsen the pain of an ulcer, the foods you eat or experiencing a lot of stress won't cause an ulcer.

If your doctor suspects you have a peptic ulcer, he or she will likely order a test to check for the H. pylori bacteria before prescribing treatment.

Related information about peptic ulcers:

Sources:

"H. pylori and Peptic Ulcer." NIH Publication No. 05–4225 October 2004. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC).

William D. Chey, M.D., F.A.C.G., A.G.A.F., F.A.C.P., Benjamin C.Y. Wong, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.G., F.A.C.P., "American College of Gastroenterology Guideline on the Management of Helicobacter pylori Infection." doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2007.01393.x. American College of Gastroenterology.

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