Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Diseases

Peptic Ulcer

About Peptic Ulcer

Peptic ulcers are breaks that develop in the lining of the lower end of esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, or small intestine.

The most common causes of peptic ulcers are infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, diclofenac sodium (Advil, Voltaren others) and naproxen sodium. Stress and spicy foods can make your symptoms worse.

They’re usually formed as a result of increased acid production in the stomach and very often inflammation caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, as well as from erosion from stomach acids. Peptic ulcers are a fairly common health problem.

There are three types of peptic ulcers:

  • Gastric ulcers: ulcers that develop inside the stomach
  • Esophageal ulcers: ulcers that develop inside the esophagus
  • Duodenal ulcers: ulcers that develop in the upper section of the small intestines, called the duodenum

Ulcers form when digestive juices damage the walls of the stomach or small intestine. If the mucus layer gets too thin or your stomach makes too much acid, your gut will feel it. The two major causes are:

  • Helicobacter pylori ( pylori), a type of bacteria that can cause a stomach infection and inflammation
  • Certain Pain Relievers : frequent use of aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory drugs. They block the body from making a chemical that helps in the protection of the inner walls of your stomach and intestine from stomach acid.
  • Other causes include smoking and consumption of alcohol.

Symptoms of Peptic Ulcer

The symptoms of an ulcer include:

  • Abdominal pains between meals
  • Black or Bloody stools
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Unexplained Weight loss
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting
  • Chest Pain

Diagnosis of Peptic Ulcer

Upper endoscopy is the test of choice to detect peptic ulcer, where your doctor under conscious sedation which usually is an intravenous injection passes a thin tube which has a camera at its tip down your mouth , into your stomach and small intestine to examine the area for ulcers. The entire procedure is very short and a very well tolerated procedure and patient doesnot experience any difficulties during the pre or post procedure. The procedure also allows the physician to take samples for infection or for detection of early changes like cancer etc.

Treatment of Peptic Ulcer

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your ulcer. If tests show that you have an H. pylori infection, your doctor will prescribe a combination of medication. You’ll have to take the medications for up to two weeks. The medications include antibiotics to help kill infections and proton pump inhibitors(PPIs) to help reduce stomach acid. Over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers may ease some or all of the pain, but the relief is always short-lived.

Certain lifestyle choices and habits can reduce your risk of developing peptic ulcers. These include:

  • Not drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day
  • Not mixing alcohol with medication
  • Washing your hands frequently to avoid infections
  • Limiting the use of pain relief medicines like ibuprofen, aspirin etc.