Retour vers le haut

Stomach pain or discomfort ?

From the first signal

Call your doctor Trianle bleu

Bouton play Vidéo présentation
Point blue

— Understand

You are maybe infected with Helicobacter pylori

Helicobacter pylori is a pathogenic bacteria with a helical form. The bacteria colonises the stomach and survives in the hostile acidic environment. It causes an inflammation called gastritis. Helicobacter pylori infection is common and affects approximately 4.4 billion individuals worldwide. The bacteria is mainly transmitted orally, generally between parents and children or between siblings. It is mainly transmitted during childhood and persists throughout a person’s life if it is not detected and treated.

Point bleu

The consequences are sometimes serious


4.4 billion

Individuals are
infected worldwide


70 to 80 %

Of stomach
ulcers are caused
by this bacteria


1 to 3 %

Of patients with
ulcers will develop
a stomach cancer


— Recognise

Points bleu

Different situations that could alert you

Fond vagues Douleurs

Stomach pain

Fond vagues Inconfort


Fond vagues Lourdeur

Indigestion or a feeling of stomach heaviness

Fond vagues Parenté


a 1st degree relative who has or had stomach pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions

«This list is non-exhaustive; provided for information purposes. It is recommended to consult your doctor.»

Most of the time, stomach inflammation (gastritis) goes unnoticed and does not cause any symptoms for several years before the first clinical signs appear. Digestive troubles (stomach pain, discomfort, etc.) can also occur and progress to become diseases such as ulcers and, in rare cases, stomach cancer. Bacteria play a major role in the development of ulcers (70 to 80% of ulcers are associated with a Helicobacter pylori infection). It is also responsible for 80% of stomach cancers. This is why, as soon as the first symptoms appear, it is recommended to consult your doctor.

Diagnose, treat, confirm

— Three key steps to fight against bacteria —

Point numéro 1

— Diagnose

To avoid letting bacteria settle in

As soon as the first symptoms appear, it is important to consult your doctor. Depending on the troubles that you describe and whether he believes that bacteria could be responsible, he will offer to perform a diagnostic test to detect the presence of bacteria. Based on the results of this test, the doctor will then advise on next steps.

There are several techniques for detecting the bacteria:

  • Fibroscopy (or gastroscopy) allows for the inspection of the lining of the stomach, to take samples (biopsies) to analyse them, and detect the bacteria or possible uclerative or pre-cancerous lesions that could have been caused by bacteria.
  • Serology consists of the collection of blood samples to detect antibodies produced by the body to fight infections. This exam is used mainly for patients without digestive symptoms or risk factors for the development of cancer. If the result is negative, there is no infection; it is therefore not necessary to perform a fibroscopy. A fibroscopic examination with sampling will be performed only if the result is positive.
  • A stool analysis is used to detect the bacteria (antigen test) by using immuno-enzymatic techniques.
  • Breath test consists of blowing into tubes and swallowing a solution that interacts with the bacteria. These tubes are then analysed to detect the presence of the bacteria.
Point numéro 2

— Treat

An eradication treatment is often rapid and effective

Most of the time, Helicobacter pylori can be treated quickly. The treatment is based on the administration of several antibiotics along with a medication that reduces stomach acidity. This treatment lasts for 10 to 14 days. If this treatment is not effective, then the antibiotics will be modified.

Up to

90 %

following treatment

Point numéro 3

— Confirm

To be completely sure that the bacteria no longer exists

Treatment failure can occur in 10-20% of cases, either because the bacteria is resistant to the antibiotics being used, or because of poor adherence to treatment. Therefore, your doctor will ask you to take another test to confirm that the bacteria was eradicated by the treatment you have just taken. If, however, there is still bacteria present, another additional treatment will be prescribed.

In order to confirm that the bacteria has indeed been eliminated, different tests can be used:

  • The Breath test.
  • Stool antigen test.
  • Fibroscopy.

Your general practitioner

— The healthcare professional you should consult —

Demander médecin

What he/she will ask

Your general practitioner is your point of contact. He knows you and will find the proper questions to ask. Family history, lifestyle, age, and symptoms… All of these factors can guide and, if necessary, lead him to make a diagnosis.

What he/she will do

If necessary, your doctor may prescribe a test to detect the presence of the bacteria. If the test is positive, he will prescribe a treatment and will check that this treatment was effective through a post-treatment test. He may also refer you to a gastroenterologist who could, for example, perform a fibroscopic exam to pursue the investigation.

Action médecin


— find answers to the most frequently asked questions —

Is diet a determining factor for recovery from a Helicobacter pylori infection? Is it necessary to change my diet?

Changing your diet is not sufficient to treat the infection, but may help reduce stomach discomfort and pain. In addition, studies have shown that some dietary habits, such as eating too much salt, too many proteins and smoked foods, may be involved in the occurrence of gastric cancer. Furthermore, the consumption of anti-oxidants (vitamin E, Beta-carotene or provitamin A, ascorbic acid or vitamin C) in fruits and vegetables, even in small quantities, seems to reduce the risk of developing gastric cancer.

I have difficulties to take the treatment as required. What will happen if I stop it in the middle?

If the treatment is not strictly followed (number of doses, time of intake and treatment duration) or if it is discontinued prematurely, the bacteria may not be completely eradicated, and they may develop a resistance to antibiotics. If this is the case, you will have to take a new treatment composed of different antibiotics that the bacteria are not resistant to, in order to completely eradicate it. If you have some problems to take your treatment, consult your doctor for advice.

Can you get re-infected after the bacteria is eradicated?

The recurrence of the infection is theoretically possible, but rare in adults in Western countries (2 to 3% per year). Therefore, performing a test for a potential new infection is not recommended if the eradication of the bacteria was confirmed by a post-treatment test.

The post-treatment test detected the presence of Helicobacter pylori; however, my symptoms disappeared after my treatment. What is the benefit of getting rid of the bacteria?

Completely getting rid of the bacteria allows the layer of the stomach and the ulcers to recover from the inflammation with an extremely low risk of relapse.

Since people are generally infected during childhood, should children be screened for Helicobacter pylori?

The Helicobacter pylori test in children is only justified if symptoms appear suggesting stomach disease. Healthcare authorities and academic societies do not recommend screening for Helicobacter pylori if there are no clinical signs (stomach troubles).

A member of my family had stomach cancer. Should I worry? What should I do?

Screening for Helicobacter pylori is highly recommended if a member of your family (parents, siblings) has or had pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions. In fact, the relatives of a patient who had stomach cancer are more prone to a Helicobacter pylori infection that can, in some cases, lead to cancer.

Is there a vaccine?

No, there is currently no vaccine against a Helicobacter pylori infection.
In theory, a vaccine is feasible. However, given that a Helicobacter pylori infection can be easily diagnosed and treated, the benefit of a large scale vaccination remains low.

What are the main transmission routes of Helicobacter pylori infection?

The infection is mainly transmitted through secretions coming from the stomach:
- Through direct contact with vomit, regurgitation or infected saliva
- Through the fecal-oral route due to poor hygiene
The bacteria is mainly transmitted between members of the same family, particularly children. The risk of transmission seems to decrease after 5 years of age.