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Peptic Ulcers At A Glance

Written by Courteney

Posted on June 4, 2016 at 6:13 pm

North of 25 million Americans suffer with a peptic ulcer at some point in their lives. A peptic ulcer is an abrasion (open sore) in the mucosa of the stomach or duodenal tract caused by a pepsin or a bacterial imbalance. Peptic ulcers can be mild and asymptomatic, or they can cause immense discomfort and dangerous complications if not treated.

Fast Facts:

  • Over 90% of duodenal (upper stomach) ulcers are caused by helicobacter pylori bacteria.
  • Ulcers were once thought to be incurable, remedied with H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors to reduce inflammation, but when certain ulcers are treated with antibiotics, the pylori bacteria is often eradicated and the ulcer can almost completely clear up.
  • Ulcers that are not caused by H. pylori are often treated with medication or surgery, as well as lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking and drinking).
  • Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) can cause and aggravate ulcers.
  • Even medications that are marketed as ‘safely coated’ such as aspirin can cause ulcers.
  • Drinking alcohol and smoking can also lead to the development of ulcers.
  • Ulcers are often diagnosed following an upper endoscopy whereby a small tube is inserted into the stomach to look for abnormalities.
  • Contrary to long held belief about ulcers, research has not established a clear link between stress and developing ulcers. Stress can make existing ulcers worse (as it can worsen most any health condition) but can likely not cause ulcers to form.
  • Some symptoms of ulcers include: bloating, chronic heartburn, occasional vomiting or more seriously, severe abdominal pain, weight loss, or changes (such as bleeding) in the stool.
  • Ulcer pain usually strikes as a gnawing, stabbing or burning pain, often during the night or when you are hungry.
  • Ulcers can lead to dangerous internal bleeding or may rarely be a symptom of a more serious intestinal condition so it is important to attend regular checkups with your doctor on the status of your ulcer.
  • You are at higher risk of developing an ulcer if you: drink or smoke regularly, are elderly, take NSAIDS routinely for a prolonged period of time, have a liver, kidney or lung condition or are infected with the H. pylori bacteria.

Thanks for reading, we hope you found our article beneficial! If you have any questions about ulcers feel free to sign up to DocChat today for a video consultation with one of our knowledgeable board certified physicians!


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