Helicobacter pylori is a common and very old bacterium. According to the latest research, it seems it was present even during the age of Otzi, the famous Iceman who lived about 5,300 year ago and was discovered in the Ötztal Alps. It’s discovery has revolutionized the history of medicine.

Dr. Beatrice Salvioli, gastroenterologist at Humanitas, explains the reasons for this bacterium in a recent interview during transmission of “Cuore e Denari” broadcasted on Radio 24 in Italy.

patient with helicobacter pylori

Why has the discovery of Helicobacter pylori been so important?

The discovery of this bacterium has really revolutionized the history of medicine and the scholars credible for this won the Nobel Prize in 2005. It was once thought that gastritis and ulcers occurred due to hyperacidity conditions of the stomach, when in fact, it turned out that these conditions were often associated with Helicobacter pylori.


What are the symptoms associated with it’s presence?

The term dyspepsia, which means impaired digestion and results in a number of symptoms such as difficulty digesting, bloating, heartburn, drowsiness and post prandial is typically associated with Helicobacter pylori. These symptoms may occur due to reflux, gastritis, ulcer or an infection related with Helicobacter pylori.


How is it diagnosed?

The simplest methods for diagnosis are through the execution of non-invasive tests such as the urea breath test and a stool test.

The urea breath test is a procedure in which a patient is asked to drink a substance which reacts to Helicobacter pylori. If the bacteria is present in your stomach, the urea is broken up and turned into ammonia and carbon dioxide which is detectable in ones breath. The stool test instead seeks the antigen in a stool sample, which occurs if the bacteria is present in your stomach.


How is Helicobacter pylori treated?

To treat Helicobacter pylori, antibiotics are needed because it is an infection. In most cases, antibiotic therapy is crucial and a new execution of a urea breath test or stool test verifies the effective eradication of the bacteria.