Peptic ulcers are open sores developing on
the inside lining of your stomach or the upper part of the small intestine
(duodenum). According to different locations, peptic ulcers can be divided into
- Gastric ulcers (on the inside of the stomach)
- Duodenal ulcers (on the inside of the duodenum)
In rare cases, a peptic ulcer may develop inside the esophagus. This can be called esophageal ulcers.
In the United States, about 1 in every 73 people are affected by peptic ulcers.
Burning stomach pain is the most common
sign of peptic ulcers. It can be felt anywhere between your belly button and
breastbone. Moreover, the pain often:
- Happens when your stomach is empty
- Stops briefly if you eat or take antacids
- Lasts for minutes to hours
- Comes and goes for several days, weeks, or months
You may less often have symptoms such as:
- Feeling sick to your stomach
- Feeling faint
- Poor appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dark blood in stools
However, it should be noted that symptoms
do not occur in nearly three-quarters of people with the condition.
A mucus layer covering your digestive tract protects it from the acid. But when the amount of acid is increased or the amount of mucus is decreased, the acid will eat away at the inner surface of your stomach or small intestine, leading to ulcers. Factors that contribute to it include:
- An infection with bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
- Regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen
- Rare cancerous and noncancerous tumors in the stomach, duodenum, or pancreas (Zollinger-Ellison syndrome)
Besides, you will be more likely to have
peptic ulcers if you:
- Drink alcohol
- Have untreated stress
- Eat spicy foods
In addition to taking a medical history and
performing a physical exam, your doctor may order the following tests,
- Laboratory tests for H. pylori
With these tests, your doctor can determine whether H. pylori is present in your body. The most accurate test is the breath test.
By ordering endoscopy, you doctor can examine your upper digestive system to look for ulcers.
- Upper gastrointestinal series
This series of X-rays create images of your esophagus, stomach and small intestine to help your doctor make a diagnosis. During this process, you swallow a white liquid to coat the digestive tract and make ulcers more visible.
Treatment options depend on the cause of
your peptic ulcers. Medications that may be used involve:
- Antibiotic medications to kill H. pylori
If the result of diagnostic tests indicate there is H. pylori in your digestive tract, a combination of antibiotics to kill it may be recommended. These medicines include amoxicillin (Amoxil), clarithromycin (Biaxin), metronidazole (Flagyl) and levofloxacin (Levaquin).
- Medications that block acid production and promote healing
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can block the action of the parts of cells that produce acid so that stomach acid will be reduced. They include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and pantoprazole (Protonix).
- Medications to reduce acid production
- Antacids that neutralize stomach acid
Your doctor may also recommend antacids which neutralize existing stomach acid and relief your pain. But antacids are not generally used for healing ulcers. What’s more, they may cause side effects such as constipation or diarrhea.
- Medications that protect the lining of your stomach and small
Furthermore, the following tips may help you
- Have a healthy diet
- Have foods containing probiotics
- Eliminate milk
- Switch pain relievers
- Control stress
- Do not smoke
- Limit or avoid alcohol
- Get enough sleep
Keyword: peptic ulcers.