A Helicobacter pylori colonisation of the stomach can lead to a permanent, therapy-resistant inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis). The bacteria also increase the production of gastric acid. This further damages the mucous membrane. A feeling of fullness, pain in the upper abdomen or nausea can be signs of this, as can belching, loss of appetite and bad breath.
People infected with Helicobacter pylori often have no symptoms at all.
Two out of 10 people with undiagnosed Helicobacter pylori infection develop an ulcer of the stomach or duodenum. Bleeding can occur, and in the worst case, the stomach or intestine can rupture. In very rare cases, stomach cancer can also be a consequence of the infection.
There are several ways to detect Helicobacter pylori.
It can be detected from the breath or from the stool with the help of special methods.
Both of these tests are non-invasive.
Helicobacter pylori can also be detected by a gastroscopy. In this procedure, a thin flexible tube is inserted through the oesophagus into the stomach under a short anaesthetic (the so-called twilight sleep method). A small amount of stomach tissue is taken with biopsy forceps so that further examinations can be carried out under the microscope. A gastroscopy can also reveal other things. Helicobacter pylori can be effectively removed (“eradicated”) from the stomach with medication. The treatment consists of an acid blocker and two different antibiotics.
In addition, another antibiotic or the mineral bismuth can be added. The acid blocker inhibits the formation of acid in the stomach. This also helps the mucous membrane to recover. Antibiotics and bismuth work against the bacteria. The duration of therapy is generally 10-14 days.
Helicobacter pylori bacteria are increasingly insensitive (resistant) to certain types of antibiotics. A few weeks after the end of treatment, it should therefore be checked whether the therapy was successful. Because of the development of resistance, therapy with the bismuth-containing regimen is now often chosen.
Modified after: https://www.bundesaerztekammer.de/fileadmin/user_upload/_old-files/downloads/pdf-Ordner/Patienteninformationen/helicobacter.pdf