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Peptic Ulcer

A Peptic Ulcer is open sores that develop on the inside lining of your stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine. They are usually formed as a result of inflammation caused by the bacteria H. pylori, as well as from erosion from stomach acids. Peptic ulcers are a fairly common health problem. 

There are three types of Peptic Ulcer:

  • Duodenal Ulcers – usually develops in the upper section of the small intestines called the duodenum 
  • Esophageal Ulcers – usually develops in the esophagus
  • Gastric Ulcers – usually develops inside the stomach 

The most common symptom of this condition is burning abdominal pain that extends from the navel to the chest which ranges from mild to severe. In some cases, the pain may wake you up at night. Other common signs of a Peptic Ulcer may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Dark or bloody stools
  • Nausea
  • Changes in appetite 

Causes

Peptic Ulcer occurs when acid in the digestive tract eats away at the inner surface of the small intestine or stomach. The acid makes a painful open sore that may bleed. Your digestive tract is coated with a mucous layer that usually protects against acid. However, if the amount of acid is increased or the total of mucus is reduced, you could develop an ulcer. Other common causes of this condition may include:

  • Regular use of certain pain relievers (aspirin and NSAIDs)
  • A bacterium (Helicobacter pylori)
  • Certain medications (NSAIDs, low-dose aspirin, steroids, and anticoagulants) 

Treatment 

Peptic ulcers treatment depends on the cause. Usually, treatment will involve killing the H. pylori bacterium if present, reducing the use of NSAIDs if possible, and helping your ulcer to heal with medicine. Medications can include:

  • Antacids that neutralize stomach acid
  • Antibiotic medications to kill H. pylori
  • Medications to reduce acid production
  • Medications that protect the lining of your stomach and small intestine 
  • Medications that block acid production and promote healing

Prevention 

You may lessen your risk of peptic ulcers if you follow the same approaches suggested as home remedies used for the treatment of ulcers. It also may be helpful to:

  • Protect yourself from infections: Though it is not clear just how H. pylori spread there’s some indication that it could be transmitted through food and water or from person to person.

You can take steps to protect yourself from infections by frequently washing your hands with soap and water and by eating foods that have been cooked completely.

  • Use caution with pain relievers: If you regularly use pain relievers that increase your risk of peptic ulcer, take steps to lessen your risk of stomach complications. For example, take your medicine with meals.

Work with your doctor to find the possible lowest dose that still gives you pain relief. Avoid drinking alcohol when taking your medication, since the two can combine to increase your risk of stomach upset. 

If you need an NSAID, you may need to also take additional medicines such as a proton pump inhibitor, an antacid, acid blocker, or cytoprotective agent.