What is Peptic Ulcer?
Peptic ulcers are usually open sores that develop inside the lining of the stomach and the upper section of the small intestine.
There are more than 100 thousand reported cases per year in Nigeria.
The most common sign of a peptic ulcer is a stomach pain.
Types of Peptic ulcers include:
Gastric ulcers: This type occurs inside the stomach.
Duodenal ulcers: This type happens inside the upper portion of the small intestine.
Symptoms of Peptic Ulcer
- Burning stomach pain
- Intolerance to fatty foods
- Feeling of fullness, bloating, and belching
The most common peptic ulcer symptom is stomach pain that burns really bad. Stomach pain worsens due to stomach acid present in the intestine. Eating certain foods can help ease off the pain or by taking an acid-reducing medication. However, this is not a permanent solution as it may come back. The pain may get worse in between meals and at night.
Many people with peptic ulcers may not show symptoms.
In rare cases, ulcers may cause serious signs or symptoms such as:
- Unintentional weight loss
- Nausea or vomiting (or vomiting of red or black stools)
- Having trouble breathing
- Having dark blood in stools
- Feeling faint
Causes of Peptic Ulcers
The digestive tract is coated or covered with a mucous layer that usually protects against acid. But if there’s an increase in the amount of acid or a decrease in the amount of mucous, one could develop an ulcer.
Common causes include:
Stomach ulcers are most times usually caused by one of the following:
Bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) could be transmitted from person to person through food or water.
Consistent use of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. over a long period
In rare cases, a condition known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome may cause stomach and intestinal ulcers by increasing the production of acid by the body. This syndrome causes less than 1 percent of all cases of peptic ulcers.
Some Risk Factors
In addition to having noticeable risks related to consuming non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
One may develop a greater risk of peptic ulcers by:
· Smoking: This may increase the risk of peptic ulcers in people who are infected with the bacteria H. pylori.
· Eating spicy foods
· Alcohol: This too irritates and wash away the mucous lining of the stomach and increases the amount of stomach acid being produced.
It is very essential to keep in mind that these factors do not cause ulcers, but they make ulcers condition worse and very hard to heal.
Diagnosis of Peptic Ulcers
Diagnosis and treatment of symptoms depend on the severity of the condition.
If you’re suspected of having a peptic ulcer, your medical history will be cross-checked by your doctor along with symptoms you encounter from time to time and also any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take.
Other tests that might be conducted include;
« A blood, stool, or breath test.
How a breath test is being performed:
You are to drink a clear liquid and afterward breathe into a bag. This bag is then sealed. If there is a presence of H.pylori, the breath sample will contain higher-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide.
Treatment of Peptic Ulcers
Treatment of peptic ulcers varies and depends on the cause of the ulcer.
Treatment options include:
This is done if your condition is caused by the bacteria H. pylori. Antibiotics and drugs called proton pump inhibitors will be needed to block stomach cells that produce acid.
- Surgical treatment:
This is done in very rare cases, and when there are complications that require surgery.
- Eating a healthy diet can benefit one’s intestinal tract and overall health.
Home remedies for Peptic Ulcers
- Glutamine: could be gotten from food sources like chicken, fish, eggs, spinach, and cabbage.
Side effects of medications used to treat Peptic ulcers include:
- Abdominal pain
These side effects are most times temporary.
Complications of Peptic Ulcers
If left not treated, Peptic ulcers may lead to:
- Internal bleeding could lead to anemia and cause black or bloody vomit and stools.
- Peptic Ulcers can cause a hole in the wall of the stomach or small intestine, which could lead to a serious infection of the abdominal cavity later on in life.
- Peptic ulcers can block food passage through the digestive tract causing one to become satisfied quickly.
- Also, one tends to vomit and lose weight either through swelling from inflammation or through scarring.
- A lot of studies have managed to disclose that people infected with H. pylori have an increased risk of having Gastric Cancer.
When to See a Doctor
See a doctor if you notice these listed symptoms or have severe symptoms listed above. Also, one should see a doctor if over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers relieve you of pain temporarily.
In conclusion, one could reduce the risk of having peptic ulcers if one protects himself or herself from infections by frequently washing hands with soap or water and as well as eating foods that were thoroughly cooked.
Also, one should be extremely careful when using pain-relieving medications and as well as avoid intake of alcohol and smoking as they can both increase one’s risk of having a peptic ulcer.
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