Causes and Risk Factors for Helicobacter Pylori Infection

Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which are present in contaminated food and water, may spread from person to person through close contact with infected saliva (e.g., by sharing eating utensils, drinking glasses, or kissing), vomit, and feces. Poor hygiene and exposure to contaminated sewage also may play a role in H. pylori infection. Once the bacteria enter the body, they can attach to the lining of the stomach and release toxic substances that lead to inflammation and infection.

Age is a risk factor for H. pylori infection and the condition is more common in older people. People who live in developing countries and in crowded, unsanitary conditions are also at increased risk. According to The American Academy of Family Physicians, race may also be a factor and people of African-American or Hispanic descent have a higher risk for H. pylori infection.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 29 Feb 2008

Last Modified: 19 May 2011