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Helicobacter pylori is a common chronic bacterial infection that is present in up to 31% of Singaporeans 1. The majority of people infected with helicobacter pylori never experience any symptoms of complications. However, colonisation with helicobacter pylori is a major risk factor for peptic ulcer disease as well as gastric malignancy2.
Most individuals with chronic gastritis or duodenitis have no symptoms. On the other hand, some people develop more serious problems, including stomach or duodenal ulcers. Ulcers can cause a variety of symptoms or no symptoms at all. Common complaints include pain or discomfort (usually in the upper abdomen), bloating, feeling full after eating a small amount of food, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and dark or tar-colored stools. Ulcers that bleed can cause a low blood count and fatigue.
In Singapore, the prevalence rate in the community (without any symptom) was estimated to increase with age from 3% in children below 5-year-old to 71% in adults above 65.
There are several ways to diagnose H. pylori.
Endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract can confirm certain gastrointestinal conditions, such as peptic ulcer, as well as infection with H. pylori. It is generally reserved for patients with symptoms. Blood tests – for H. pylori-specific antibody.
Treatment involves taking several medications for seven to 14 days.