Peptic ulcer


Some ulcers affect the digestive system particularly the duodenum and the stomach. Gastric ulcer is the one present in the stomach and a duodenal ulcer is an ulcer present in the duodenum. Duodenal ulcers occur in people in the age group of 20 to 45.Stomach ulcer is commonly found in people above the age of 50.Stomach acid when comes in contact with the duodenum and stomach wall, damages that particular area resulting in ulcer.


Symptoms

The first symptom of peptic ulcer is stomach pain. But this may be due to some normal reasons.

Some of the common symptoms of peptic ulcer are listed below.

-difficulty in swallowing the food
-a pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen which may give the feeling of indigestion
-feeling of sickness after eating
-weight loss
-regurgitating food

The empty stomach may cause more pain in some cases and pain gets eased on eating. But in some other cases it has been found that there is an increase in pain on eating.

Emergencies
One should seek immediate medical help in the following cases.
-blood in the vomit
-stools have a black or tar like colour
-acute and sudden pain in the stomach

Causes

Following causes are responsible for development of peptic ulcer

-An infection caused by Helicobacter pylori
Around 80% cases of gastric ulcer and 95% cases of duodenal ulcers are caused by Helicobacter pylori.

-Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Around 20% cases of gastric ulcer and 5% cases of duodenal ulcers are caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Helicobacter pylori (H pylori)
This bacterium spreads through water and food. It may also spread by mouth contact as it may be present in saliva. This infection may be easily picked during childhood. The sticky mucus that covers the lining of the duodenum and stomach contains these bacteria. The enzyme urease produced by it may make the stomach acid less acidic. This in turn increases the acid production in stomach which causes irritation in the lining of the stomach. The defence system of stomach is also weakened by the bacteria causing inflammation in the area affected.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
These drugs which include ibuprofen and aspirin may cause peptic ulcer in some cases. They decrease the ability of stomach to make a defensive layer of mucus. The stomach becomes vulnerable to the acid. It also influences the repair of body cells and flow of blood in the stomach.

Other factors
Peptic ulcer can be hereditary. It may be also caused by drinking alcohol and smoking. The signs of an existing ulcer may worsen due to stress.

Treatment

The treatment of peptic ulcer depends on the cause for the ulcer.

Proton pump inhibitors
If the ulcer is not caused by Helicobacter pylori then the GP will prescribe Proton pump inhibitors. These tablets work by reducing the acid quantity produced in the body.

Treatment of infection caused by H pylori.

If the ulcer is due to H pylori bacterium, the infection needs to be cleared from the stomach. These infections are generally treated using triple therapy.

Stopping NSAIDs
If the peptic ulcer is a result of using NSAIDs, then one should stop taking them. Any other alternative painkiller may be taken in consultation with the GP.

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