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Information about Helicobacter pylori

Information about Helicobacter pylori

What is Helicobacter pylori?

Helicobacter pylori (or H pylori for short) are bacteria that live in your stomach. The infection can cause stomach ulcers which, in turn, can cause the symptoms of indigestion. Your doctor may talk with you about having a test to see if your symptoms could be caused by H pylori.


H pylori infection is often detected usinga breath test or a stool test, or sometimes a blood test. Your GP should explain more about what is involved, and whether you should stop taking your medication before the test.


If you have H Pylori, your doctor should offer you a course of treatment to get rid of the infection. The treatment involves taking a PPI as well as a combination of antibiotics for 7 days. Your doctor will take into account the antibiotics that you have been prescribed in the past, and whether you are allergic to penicillin.

If you still have symptoms after the treatment, you might need to have a second course.

Your GP should talk with you about the medicines and about how important it is to take them correctly, at the times and doses they have prescribed.

What if the treatment doesn't work?

If you've had 2 courses of H pylori treatment and you still have the H pylori infection, your doctor should get expert advice from a specialist (for example, from a gastroenterologist).

Long-term care

If you end up taking indigestion medicines for a long time, your GP should carry out an annual review to find out how you're getting on. They should discuss whether you could reduce or stop the treatment. It may be possible for you to go back to treating your symptoms with over-the-counter treatments when you need to.

Remember – you shouldn't keep taking antacids regularly for long periods. Although they help symptoms in the short term, they won't cure the problem.

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