Signs and Symptoms of Helicobacter Pylori Infection
The presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria does not cause symptoms unless infection develops. Symptoms of H. pylori infection include the following:
- Abdominal pain or a burning sensation in the abdomen
- Bad breath
- Blood in the stool or vomit (may appear black in color)
- Excessive burping (belching)
- Flatulence (passing gas from the rectum)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Complications of Helicobacter Pylori Infection
H. pylori infection can lead to serious complications. It is the leading cause for ulcers in the stomach and the first section of the small intestine (duodenum). Ulcers are sores or lesions that develop in the lining of an organ. They often bleed, perforate (rupture), and cause significant pain.
Helicobacter pylori infection can cause severe inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis). Gastritis can damage glands that produce stomach acid and increase the risk for stomach cancer (gastric cancer). Gastritis caused by H. pylori infection must be monitored closely, because stomach cancer symptoms may not escalate until the disease is advanced.
Patients who have H. pylori infection are at risk for a condition called gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma, which causes a tumor to form from white blood cells in the stomach lining. Almost all patients who develop MALT lymphoma also have Helicobacter pylori infection.
Researchers are studying the connection between H. pylori infection and abdominal pain that is not related to ulcers (e.g., nonulcer dyspepsia). It appears that the infection can cause other types of stomach pain.