Ulcer - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Peptic ulcer diseases, more commonly known as PUD is a condition in which ulcers develop in the lining of your stomach or upper portion of your small intestine. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is stomach pain. 


Types of Peptic Ulcers


Generally, there are two types of peptic ulcers, namely gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers. 


Gastric ulcers- ones that develop inside of the stomach lining.


Duodenal ulcers- ones that develop inside of the duodenum- the upper portion of the small intestine. 


Symptoms 


The symptoms of peptic ulcers may vary from person to person. But generally, it shows the following signs and symptoms.


  • Indigestion

  • Burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach between meals or at night

  • Hiccups

  • Nausea or recurrent upset stomach

  • Abdominal bloating

  • Vomiting blood or coffee ground-like material

  • Black, tarry stools

  • Abdominal pain

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of appetite


Causes 


A peptic ulcer happens when any weakness or injury occurs to the gastric lining that protects the stomach, and your digestive juices damage the stomach lining. It can occur due to various reasons like;


Helicobacter pylori- a bacteria that resides in the mucus membrane of the stomach. It can lead to ulcers. To get rid of it, you need to take a complete regimen of various medications. 


Bile reflux- a condition in which bile backflows into the stomach from the bile tract.

Other infections caused by viruses and bacteria can also lead to peptic ulcer disease.


Ulcers, if left untreated, can lead to severe blood loss, and increased risk of gastric cancer.


Risk factors


The risk factors for peptic ulcer disease can be;


Vomiting 

Excessive stress- burns, injuries, surgeries, or infections can put you at risk of getting gastritis. 


Excessive alcohol use- alcohol can cause irritation and erosion of the stomach lining that leaves your stomach vulnerable to digestive juices. Consuming too much alcohol can lead to acute gastritis or peptic ulcer disease.


Consuming NSAIDs or other anti-inflammatory drugs- using too many pain relievers like naproxen or ibuprofen can lead to gastritis or peptic ulcers. It happens because NSAIDs work by stopping the production of chemicals known as prostaglandins which tend to protect your stomach lining. Therefore, when you consume it too much, your body fails to produce the protective chemical for your gastric lining. 


Older age- as you age, the gastric lining thins out. Therefore aging can also put you at risk of getting gastric ulcers.


Autoimmune gastritis- a condition in which the cells of your body attack their own cells and damages the cells lining the stomach, eventually damaging the protective barrier of the stomach. It mostly occurs in people having other autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s disease and type I diabetes. However, it can also be associated with vitamin B 12 deficiency.


Other health conditions or diseases- health conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, HIV/AIDS, or other bacterial or protozoal infections can also lead to gastric ulcers.


Complications


Peptic ulcers, if left untreated, can lead to severe bleeding. In rare cases, it may also increase the risk of stomach cancer, especially if changes have occurred to the lining and thinning has occurred.  


Treatment 


The healthcare providers may prescribe symptomatic treatment for gastric ulcers that may include;


Taking proton pump inhibitors or antacids that help reduce acid secretion.

Avoid eating hot and spicy food.

If gastritis occurs due to pernicious anemia, vitamin B12 shots will be prescribed. 

Avoid eating foods that irritate your stomach lining, like lactose in milk or gluten in wheat.


To get rid of H.pylori infection, the healthcare provider may prescribe a regimen of two antibiotics and one proton pump inhibitor. 


Conclusion 


Peptic ulcer disease is a condition in which ulcers develop in the lining of your stomach or upper portion of your small intestine. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is stomach pain. 


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