Most people harbouring this infection will suffer no ill effects throughout their lives. Ten percent of them, however, will go on to develop peptic ulcers. It is not known exactly what triggers this.
When the infection is present, it causes the stomach to produce more acid and the stomach lining to become thinner, allowing acid to penetrate.
H. pylori infection does not cause heartburn or GORD and in some patients it appears to protect against some of the symptoms of these two conditions. It is not yet fully understood why this happens. It is also not yet clear which role, if any, the infection plays in the development of stomach cancer.
The discovery of these bacteria certainly changed the way doctors treat peptic ulcers. A short course of antibiotics, instead of acid-reducing medication, has become the norm. It should be noted, though, that lifestyle changes are still important in people who have peptic ulcers, as unhealthy habits can trigger peptic ulcers, when the infection is present. It is very easy to become re-infected with H. pylori.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, June 2004)
Heartburn – a real life story
Peptic ulcers, heartburn and diet