3. Risk Factors for H. pylori

Children are the demographic most likely to contract h. pylori. People who live in crowded areas, or in places that lack clean, running water, are at greater risk of contracting the bacteria, as are those living in developing countries where general living conditions are unsanitary.

4. Diagnosing H. pylori

More than 90% of duodenal ulcer and 70% of stomach ulcer patients are infected with H. pylori. Simple tests can confirm the presence of the bacteria.

  • Blood tests. The blood of an infected person will contain antibodies that indicate that he has had the infection recently. Since antibodies can show up for years after eradication of the infection, a blood test is a good way to diagnose past or current H. pylori infection.
  • Urea breath test. The patient drinks a liquid or swallows a capsule of urea. He or she then breathes into a bag, and this breath sample is sent to the lab. Higher-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide confirm the presence of H. pylori.
  • Stool test. The doctor may wish to have a stool sample sent to the lab to test for foreign proteins.
  • Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. An endoscopy allows the doctor to look at ulcers and test tissue samples for H. pylori. During the exam, a tube with a small camera is inserted into the mouth, through the esophagus, and into the stomach and duodenum. The doctor will evaluate the ulcers and take a tissue sample or biopsy.
  • X-ray. The doctor may wish to view the upper GI tract. The patient drinks barium to color the GI tract so that it shows up clearly in the x-ray.

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