H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori, pronounced Hel-ee-koh-BAK-ter Pie-LORE-ee) is a spiral-shaped germ (bacteria) that infects the stomach.
It can damage the tissue in your child’s stomach and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). This can cause redness and swelling (inflammation). It may also cause painful sores called peptic ulcers in the upper digestive tract.
Health experts don’t know for sure how H. pylori infection is spread. They believe the germs can be passed from person to person by mouth.
Your child may also come into contact with the bacteria if he or she:
Most people are first exposed to the bacteria during childhood.
Most people first get the bacteria when they are children. But adults can get it too.
Experts are not sure if H. pylori infection runs in families (hereditary). It is more common where people live in crowded or unclean conditions. It may affect up to 75% of children in developing countries. It occurs at a lower rate in the U.S.
Most people have the H. pylori bacteria for years without knowing it because they don’t have any symptoms. Experts don’t know why.
After being infected with H. pylori, your child may have an inflammation of the stomach lining. This is called gastritis. But most people never have symptoms or problems from the infection.
When symptoms do occur, they may include belly pain, which can:
Other symptoms may include:
H. pylori symptoms may look like other health conditions. Always see your child's healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your child’s healthcare provider will take a health history and do a physical exam. The provider may also order other tests, including:
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Your child’s treatment may include antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
Your child may also take medicines to stop stomach acid from being made. These include:
A very bad ulcer can wear away your child’s stomach lining. It can also cause problems such as:
Health experts don’t know for sure how the H. pylori bacteria passes from person to person. But having good health habits or personal hygiene can help keep your child safe. These habits include making sure that your child:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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