What is Peptic ulcer?

Intestinal ulcers including peptic ulcer are sores that appear in the lining of the stomach or below the esophagus or small intestine. They are usually formed by infections caused by pylori bacteria, and they are also formed as a result of the erosion of stomach acids. Peptic ulcers are a fairly common health problem, especially in adults.

There are three types of peptic ulcers:

  • Stomach ulcers: ulcers that develop within the stomach
  • Esophageal ulcers: ulcers develop inside the esophagus
  • Duodenal ulcer: Ulcers that appear in the upper part of the small intestine are called duodenal.

Causes of peptic ulcers

Various factors can cause the lining of the stomach, esophagus and small intestine to collapse. These factors include:

  • Pylori bacteria, a type of bacteria that can cause stomach infections
  • Frequent use of aspirin, ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs (increased risks associated with this behavior in women and people over 60 years of age)
  • Stomach cancer
  • Drinking plenty of alcohol
  • Radiation therapy
  • Smoking

Symptoms of peptic ulcer

The most common symptom of peptic ulcer is burning abdominal pain that extends from the navel to the chest, which can range from mild to severe. In some cases, pain may wake you up at night. Small peptic ulcers may not cause any symptoms in the early stages.

Other common signs of peptic ulcers include:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Nausea
  • Bloody or dark stools
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain

Gastrointestinal ulcers tests and tests

Two types of tests are available to diagnose peptic ulcers. They are called upper endoscopy and upper gastrointestinal chain (GI).

Upper endoscopy

In this procedure, your doctor inserts a long tube with a camera down your throat and into your stomach and microintestines to examine the area for ulcers. This tool also allows your doctor to remove tissue samples for examination.

Not all cases require upper endoscopy. However, this procedure is recommended for people at risk of stomach cancer. This includes people over the age of 45, as well as people with:

  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Difficulty swallowing

Upper GI

If you don’t have difficulty swallowing and have a low risk of stomach cancer, your doctor may recommend an upper gastrointestinal test instead. In this procedure, you will drink a thick liquid called barium. The fluid will allow your doctor to see and treat the ulcer.

Since pylori bacteria are a cause of peptic ulcers, your doctor will also conduct a test to check for this infection in your stomach.

How to treat peptic ulcers

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of ulcers. If tests show that you have a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe a range of medications. You’ll need to take medicationfor up to two weeks. Medications include antibiotics to help kill infections and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to help reduce stomach acid.

You may experience minor side effects such as diarrhea or upset stomach upset from antibiotic regimens. If these side effects cause severe discomfort or do not improve over time, talk to your doctor.

If your doctor decides that you do not have pyloric infection, they may recommend a prescription or over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors (such as Prilosec or Prevacid) for up to eight weeks to reduce stomach acid and help the ulcer heal.

Acid blockers such as famotidine can reduce stomach acid and ulcer pain. These medications are available by prescription and in lower doses as well.

Complications of peptic ulcer

Untreated ulcers can become worse over time. It can lead to other more serious health complications such as:

Hole in the lining of the stomach: A hole occurs in the lining of the stomach or small intestine and causes an infection. The sign of perforated ulcers is acute and sudden abdominal pain.

Internal bleeding: Bleeding of the ulcer can lead to significant blood loss and therefore require hospitalization. Signs of bleeding include vertigo and black stool.

Scar tissue: is a thick tissue that develops after injury. This tissue makes it difficult for food to pass through the digestive tract. Signs of scar tissue include vomiting and weight loss.

All three complications are serious and may require surgery. Seek urgent medical attention if you have the following symptoms:

  • Sudden and severe abdominal pain
  • Fainting, sweating, or confusion, these may be signs of shock
  • Blood in vomit or stool
  • Abdominal pain worsens with movement but improves with lying down completely

Prospects for peptic ulcer

With appropriate treatment, most peptic ulcers are healed. However, you may not recover if you stop taking the drug early or continue to use tobacco, alcohol and non-steroidal pain killers during treatment. Your doctor will schedule a follow-up after the initial treatment to assess your recovery.

Some ulcers are not healed by treatment, called heat-resistant ulcers. If the ulcer does not heal with the initial treatment, this may indicate:

  • Excessive production of stomach acid
  • Presence of non-spiral pylori bacteria in the stomach
  • Another disease, such as stomach cancer or Crohn’s disease

Your doctor may offer a different method of treatment or perform additional tests to rule out stomach cancer and other gastrointestinal diseases.