Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium (germ) that lives in the stomach. It causes a chronic low-level inflammation of the stomach lining and is strongly linked to the development of intestinal and gastric ulcers. It is the most wide-spread infection in the world, especially in the developing world.
The H. pylori germ commonly lives in the lining of the stomach in up to four out of 10 adults. It is responsible for most intestinal ulcers and over two-thirds of stomach ulcers. It also triggers symptoms like indigestion.
Most people infected with H. pylori never develop ulcers. Why the bacterium causes ulcers in some people and not in others is not known.
While the risk of becoming infected is now much less than in the past, around 40% of people over 60 years of age have H. pylori. Most are infected during childhood. Treatment with a course of antibiotics can rapidly and effectively treat this chronic infection, reducing your risk of ulcers in the future.