Peptic Ulcer

Peptic ulcer is a scar that forms in the lining of the stomach, the lower esophagus, and the small intestine, and is called gastric ulcer, esophageal ulcer and duodenal ulcer, respectively, depending on the body part.

The key root factors include the pathogenic infection and a couple of drugs.

Symptoms:

The most common complaint is the feeling of burning. This feeling, caused by the gastric acid, comes into contact with the ulcerated area. This pain;

Might be felt anywhere from the navel up to the upper abdomen,

Is worse when the stomach is empty,

Flares at night,

Is relieved by eating certain foods,

Is relieved by taking anti-acid medications,

After a few days or weeks of ongoing pain, it might wane spontaneously and relapse.

In rare cases;

black or red vomiting of blood,

tarry, black defecation,

nausea and vomiting,

weight loss might appear.

Causes:

Ulcer occurs when the stomach acid erodes parietal cell layers lining the organs in the gastrointestinal tract. The acid causes a bleeding scar on the eroded area. By default, parietal cells are covered with the mucosa. The mucosa protects parietal cells from the stomach acid. An increase of the stomach acid or decrease of the secreted mucus might induce ulcer. The most common causes of these changes are the following:

Helicobacter pylori: A microaerophilic bacterium that may occasionally trigger the formation of ulcer, starting with a burning in the stomach. Contaminated by close contact with people or with water and food.

Regular use of painkillers: Painkillers might lead to inflammation in the lining surface of the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, peptic ulcer is more prevalent in patients who regularly take painkillers.

Bisphosphonates used in the osteoporosis treatment also increase the risk of the ulcer development.

Smoking and drinking alcohol might lead to ulcer, eroding the mucosa layer.

Ulcer might cause anemia due to bleeding.

The bacterium that causes the ulcer might form intra-abdominal infections.

The healing of ulcers might result in the formation of scabs, which may prevent the movement of foods in the gastrointestinal tract and cause early satiety, vomiting and weight loss.

For the diagnosis; the physician might require blood, stool, or urea breath tests to detect the H. pylori bacterium. Besides, endoscopy may be performed to determine the location and size of the ulcer. This way, the physician can observe the lining of the esophagus, the stomach and the small intestine and take a piece for the biopsy, if needed.

Medication groups used in the ulcer treatment are as follows:

Antibiotics: Administered for eliminating the H. Pylori bacterium, antibiotics are typically administered for two weeks.

Medications, which inhibit acid production, support healing of cells damaged by the stomach acid. The long-term use of these drugs has risks that might cause hip and spine fractures.

Acid reducing medications: They reduce the ulcer pain and promotes healing by blocking the stomach acid.

Medications that neutralize the stomach acid eliminate the pain rapidly. They might induce constipation or diarrhea depending on their ingredient substance.

Treatment usually works, and the ulcer heals. If there is no heal despite the treatment, the physician may request another endoscopy to investigate whether there is an alternative condition behind these complaints.

A successful treatment requires a medication as prescribed, avoiding continuous use of painkillers, and quitting smoking.

In addition to these treatments, patients must have a healthy diet. They must consult their physician about replacing their regular painkillers and avoid stress. Additionally, they must quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake.

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