Helicobacter pylori (or H.pylori) is one of the commonest long-term bacterial infections worldwide, affecting up to 50-70% in some parts of the world. In Singapore, it has been estimated that 31% of the population has been infected by H.pylori. Fortunately, this infection is becoming less common with improvement in hygiene standard in many parts of the world.
H.pylori can result in gastritis (stomach lining injury), ulcer as well as stomach cancer. In fact, 80% of stomach cancer can be attributed to H.pylori infection. Successful treatment of H.pylori can reduce risk of stomach cancer. Typical symptoms of H.pylori infection include nausea, gastric discomfort or gastric pain.
There are a few test options to diagnose this infection: urea breath test, blood test and gastroscopy. Treatment involves combination of effective antibiotics and anti-acid medication.
Who should be tested for H.pylori?
- Patients with stomach discomfort
- Patients with stomach or duodenal ulcer
- Patient with stomach cancer
- First-degree relatives of patient with stomach cancer
- Patients who need long term use of NSAIDs (a type of pain medication) / aspirin