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Peptic Ulcer Information

A peptic ulcer is a hole in the gut lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is pain. This pain may be worse before or after eating and frequently wakes you in the early hours of the morning. The pain may go to the back or sometimes be perceived elsewhere. The word “peptic” refers to pepsin, a stomach enzyme that breaks down proteins. If a peptic ulcer is located in the stomach it is called a gastric ulcer. Peptic ulcer disease is common, affecting millions of Americans yearly. Most ulcers are associated with Helicobacter pylori, a spiral-shaped bacterium that lives in the acidic environment of the stomach. Ulcers can also be caused or worsened by drugs such as Aspirin and other NSAIDs. It's recognized that certain medical conditions can contribute to the development of ulcers. For instance, children with severe burns can develop ulcers secondary to the stress of their injuries. Cigarette smoking not only causes ulcer formation, but also increases the risk of ulcer complications such as ulcer bleeding, stomach obstruction and perforation. Peptic ulcers are common, often silent, but may first present with life threatening bleeding.

Peptic ulcers occur only in those areas of the digestive system that come in contact with digestive juices secreted by the stomach. If an ulcer bleeds you may vomit blood or partially digested blood (which looks like coffee grounds) or pass black stools (melaena), which contain changed blood, when you go to the toilet. Peptic ulcers are not caused by spicey foods or by emotional stress. Some invasive procedures may be used to diagnose an ulcer. These include an upper GI series that involves taking x-rays of the GI tract and endoscopy, in which a tiny camera on the end of a thin tube is fed through the mouth, down the esophagus, to the duodenum. If there are no signs of bleeding and your symptoms are mild and not serious or life-threatening, your doctor may have you try medications that suppress the amount of acid in your stomach. Peptic ulcers are common, and oftentimes successful treatment of peptic ulcers takes just a few weeks.

Causes of Peptic ulcer

The common causes and risk factor's of Peptic ulcer include the following:

  • Bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori for short.
  • Drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Prior history of ulcers.
  • Smoking cigarettes and using tobacco.
  • Certain drugs eg aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Living in crowded, unsanitary conditions increases the risk of H. pylori infection.

Symptoms of Peptic ulcer

Some sign and symptoms related to Peptic Ulcer are as follows:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Weight loss.
  • Chest pain.
  • Vomiting blood.
  • Bloody or dark tarry stools.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Feeding difficulties.
  • Heartburn, indigestion, belching.

Treatment of Peptic ulcer

Here is list of the methods for treating Peptic ulcer:

  • Doctors use combinations of antibiotics to treat H. pylori because one antibiotic alone isn't sufficient to kill the organism. Antibiotics commonly prescribed for treatment of H. pylori include amoxicillin, clarithromycin (Biaxin) and metronidazole.
  • Acid blockers (like cimetidine, ranitidine, or famotidine).
  • Avoid any foods which seem to bring on pain.
  • Patients who are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) may also be prescribed a prostaglandin analogue (Misoprostol) in order to help prevent peptic ulcers, which may be a side-effect of the NSAIDs.
  • Medications that protect the tissue lining (like sucralfate) may be used.


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