Peptic Ulcer: Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

‘Peptic’ is a word often associated with conditions of the stomach. Peptic ulcers are ulcers formed in the stomach. An ulcer is a name given to the sores which develop in your stomach lining. It is a type of inflammation. Ulcers are named according to their place of occurrence. 

In this article, we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatment of peptic ulcer.

What are peptic ulcers and how are they formed? 

Peptic ulcers are formed either in your stomach or in the duodenum (uppermost part of your small intestines). They look like sores on the lining of your stomach. Read more to know peptic ulcer causes which result in the formation of ulcers.  

The main reason for the formation of a peptic ulcer is by bacteria. The bacteria – Helicobacter pylori is responsible for causing this inflammation. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) resides in your gut and is responsible for causing numerous infections. If it gets worse it can even lead to stomach cancer

Helicobacter pylori enter your body through your mouth. As soon as it gets in your stomach, it attacks the stomach lining. Therefore, the acid produced by your stomach to digest food penetrates through the inflammation and causes an ulcer. 

What are the causes of peptic ulcers? 

Peptic ulcers may be caused by many factors. Helicobacter pylori is the leading cause of peptic ulcer. 

Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that lives inside your body when entered from outside. It may or may not cause a peptic ulcer. This bacteria can enter your body if you come in contact with an infected person or if you eat unhygienic food. However, there are other peptic ulcer causes too. 

Peptic ulcers can also be developed if you are in a habit of taking certain over the counter pain relievers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Some drugs also cause peptic ulcers when taken in combination with other drugs. This is known as drug-drug interaction. Generally, few drugs interact with NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Therefore, it is advised that you consult your doctor before taking medicines in combination with NSAIDs. 

Some other causes of peptic ulcers are: smoking, drinking alcohol and eating spicy food. These factors may individually or collectively cause a peptic ulcer. If you drink too much alcohol, you are at risk of developing ulcers in your stomach. 

Peptic ulcer symptoms

Nearly all patients experience stomach pain. Which makes it the most common symptom of peptic ulcer. Other peptic ulcer symptoms include nausea & vomiting, heartburn and stomach bloating. 

If the ulcer gets worse, you may witness blood in vomiting. The blood may also appear in your stools. Your appetite will also be affected by it. As a result, many patients lose their appetite. In severe cases, people may lose weight excessively. 

If you experience these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately and seek medical help. 

How will you treat a peptic ulcer? 

If left untreated, peptic ulcers can turn into stomach/gastric cancer. To treat peptic ulcers, we need to diagnose them first! 

peptic ulcer causes

Therefore, to diagnose peptic ulcers, many types of tests are performed. 

Diagnosis 

General tests for diagnosing peptic ulcers include blood tests, stool tests and breath tests. Blood tests and stool tests are diagnosed for the presence of H. pylori antibodies. Whereas, for a breath test, a tablet or liquid is given which the patient has to drink. Then, his/her breath is collected and is diagnosed for the presence of carbon dioxide. If carbon dioxide is present, the result of the test is positive. 

Other medical tests include performing an endoscopy. In endoscopy, a hollow and flexible tube is made to penetrate to your stomach. The tube has a lens on its end which shows the inside view of your stomach lining. 

Your doctor can also perform a biopsy. In a biopsy, a small part of the tissue is removed from your stomach lining. It is then analysed for the presence of H. pylori bacteria. 

A peptic ulcer can also be detected by performing an X-ray of the stomach portion. To take an X-ray, the doctor will make you drink a liquid containing barium. This liquid increases the visibility of the X-ray. 

Treatment

Your doctor will probably start giving you a combination of medicines for your peptic ulcer treatment. Usually, doctors prescribe antibiotics with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Proton pump inhibitors are medicines that reduce the formation of acid in the stomach. They inhibit the hydrogen-potassium ATPase pump. Thereby, reducing the production of acid in the stomach. However, proton pump inhibitors should not be used for a long period. 

You might also be given antacids to reduce the acid in your stomach. Their effect won’t stay for long, though. They are only given to provide relief for some time. 

Complications of peptic ulcer 

Ulcers are usually cured with the combination of medicines. However, if a peptic ulcer does not heal, there can be complications ranging from mild to severe. 

Peptic ulcer complications can take place if the patient doesn’t take medicines as prescribed. Moreover, antibiotic resistance is also one of the main reasons for peptic ulcer complications. 

If the patient continues taking NSAIDs, he or she might experience complications and it will be difficult to treat the ulcer then. 

Two biggest peptic ulcer complications are stomach cancer and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. In Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, the acid inside the stomach starts over-producing. In rare cases, surgery might be required to treat an ulcer. 

How can you prevent ulcers?

Ulcers are difficult to deal with. Therefore, we will tell you what you can do to prevent them from happening. 

Smoking or drinking alcohol is the most common cause of developing peptic ulcers. Furthermore, eating spicy food also causes the formation of ulcers. 

Some doctors believe stress can trigger the development of peptic ulcers as well. 

If you are in a habit of taking pain relievers and NSAIDs, stop taking them regularly and consult your doctor. 

Do not eat anything unhygienic. Try to eat in clean places to avoid contracting the bacteria- Helicobacter pylori

In this article, we discussed the symptoms and causes of peptic ulcers, its treatment and complications. 

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