Peptic Ulcer

A peptic ulcer is a sore that can occur in the lining of the stomach or duodenum (first part of the small intestine just below the stomach)

What are the causes of peptic ulcer?

The most common reason for peptic ulcer disease is an infection caused by a bacteria called H pylori. The second most common reason for the ulcers is long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), naproxen (Aleve), etc. Peptic ulcer is not caused by stress or spicy foods!

What are the symptoms of peptic ulcer?

Some people may not have any symptoms. Other people can have symptoms including-

  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Bloating or feeling full after eating a small amount of food
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Blood in the stool or black stool
  • Nausea or vomiting, sometimes with blood
  • Weight loss

How is peptic ulcer diagnosed?

The most definite way to diagnose peptic ulcer is by a barium x-ray or upper endoscopy. Sometimes, if you have very convincing symptoms of an ulcer, I may test you for the H pylori bacteria and may treat you with ulcer medications before doing any other tests.

How are peptic ulcers treated?

Regardless of the cause of the ulcers, the ulcers are treated with medications that reduce the amount of acid production and help the ulcers heal. If the ulcers are caused by H pylori bacteria, you may need a two-week course of antibiotics. If the ulcers are caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, those need to be stopped.

What other precautions do I need to take if I have ulcers?

If you are a smoker, cutting down or quitting smoking will help heal the ulcers better. There is no special diet for ulcers. Watch out for any bleeding (blood in the stool or black stool ) from the ulcer which can be a serious complication of an ulcer.

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