The term gastritis refers specifically to abnormal inflammation in the stomach lining. People who have gastritis may experience pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, nausea and vomiting but many people with gastritis have no symptoms.
H. pylori is a type of bacteria that causes gastritis. H. pylori are primarily transmitted from person to person and are found in about two-thirds of the world's population. In areas with poor sanitation, H. pylori may be transmitted through contaminated food or water.
Treating H. pylori infections is important, even if a person is not experiencing symptoms. Left untreated, H. pylori gastritis causes peptic ulcers and can also stomach cancer. Some people with chronic H. pylori gastritis develop atrophic gastritis. Atrophic gastritis destroys the cells in the stomach lining that produce digestive acids and enzymes and can also lead to cancer.
After performing a physical examination, your doctor may test your breath, blood or stool for signs of infection. H. pylori infection can also be confirmed with biopsies taken from the stomach during endoscopy.
The most common treatment for H. pylori infection utilizes a combination of medications to kill the bacteria. Medicines known as a proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid), lansoprazole (Prevacid), pantoprazole (Protonix), rabeprazole (Aciphex), esomeprazole (Nexium), and dexlansoprazole (Kapidex) – are combined with two antibiotics, most often amoxicillin and clarithromycin. Treatment may also include bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol).
After treatment, your doctor may use a breath or stool test to make sure the H. pylori infection is gone. Curing the infection can be expected to cure the gastritis and decrease the risk of other gastrointestinal diseases, such as peptic ulcer disease, gastric cancer and certain types of lymphoma.