Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) is usually found in your gut in small amounts, but it can become unmanageable and cause digestive problems, such as ulcers and constipation.

Constipation is a common symptom of an infection by the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria in the digestive tract.

Read on to learn more about the connection between H. pylori and constipation, when to contact a doctor for constipation, and how they might treat constipation caused by H. pylori.

H. pylori infections affect around 44% of people around the world.

H. pylori infections share a close link to chronic constipation that doesn’t get better with home treatments over a matter of weeks. That’s because H. pylori infections themselves last for a long time.

Keep in mind that chronic constipation happens when you have fewer than three bowel movements in a week.

The stool may be hard and you may feel like you still haven’t finished even after some comes out. Acute constipation that lasts for a few days isn’t usually a cause for concern.

A 2018 study of 166 people with H. pylori infections suggests that chronic constipation has a direct link to H. pylori.

All the people in the study received treatment with eradication therapy that removes an infection from the gut. All of them reported less constipation after the full course of treatment.

A comprehensive 2023 review article also noted that many H. pylori infections last for a long time, resulting in chronic constipation.

H. pyloriinfections disrupt the typical, good bacteria in your gut that maintain digestion. A long-term infection makes it harder for people to digest food and move it through the intestines.

Can H. pylori cause constipation and bloating?

H. pyloriinfection — along with a related infection known as a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) — can sometimes cause constipation and bloating.

A 2022 review noted that up to two-thirds of people with H. pylori infections and SIBO experience bloating, but that constipation was less common than bloating during an active infection.

Can H. pylori cause constipation and diarrhea?

Constipation and diarrhea can sometimes happen together during an H. pylori infection. But diarrhea is a much less common symptom than constipation.

Diarrhea has been reported in young children who get H. pylori infections, but it’s considered extremely rare.

H. pylori treatment, especially eradication therapy, doesn’t cause constipation.

It’s quite the opposite — antibiotics used in eradication therapy can cause diarrhea as bacterial overgrowth is flushed out of your gut.

A 2019 study indicated that up to 35% of people who received eradication therapy experienced diarrhea, especially if they received “triple therapy” involving esomeprazole, clarithromycin, and amoxicillin, as well as a probiotic for 2 weeks.

A 2022 review article also suggests that diarrhea happens in up to 48% of people who get eradication therapy for H. pylori infections.

Get medical help for constipation if it lasts longer than a few days or if you have any of the following symptoms:

Eradication therapy is the most effective treatment for constipation caused by H. pylori. This involves using antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor over a 2-week period.

A 2022 study tested eradication therapy on 287 people with constipation who tested positive for H. pylori. The researchers found that people felt significant relief 2 months after undergoing eradication therapy.

Here are some common treatments for constipation that doesn’t go away after a few days:

Long-term constipation not relieved by eradication therapy or other treatments might require you to have stool removed by other means, such as:

  • enema to help cleanse your colon with a saline solution
  • prescription medications that help increase fluid levels in your intestines or make gut movements more regular
  • removal of stool by a medical professional using a finger inserted into the rectum to break up and pull out fecal impaction
  • surgery (cecostomy) to help clear an intestinal blockage

Constipation is a common symptom of H. pyloriinfection.

Treating the infection with eradication therapy can help relieve constipation, especially when used along with other methods such as increasing fiber or using stool softeners.