What is peptic ulcer disease and what are its symptoms?

Peptic ulcers are sores that form on the lining of the stomach or duodenum. These are often caused by a range of factors which often include infections in the stomach or duodenum caused by a type of bacteria called H. pylori and even certain medicines such as NSAIDS - nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These include pain-relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

Those with this condition often do not display any symptoms. If they do, these include:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen (ulcers in the stomach can cause pain soon after someone has a meal. Ulcers in the duodenum, on the other hand, can cause pain or burning when a patient’s stomach is empty)
  • Bloating
  • Feeling full after eating a little food
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting

This condition can often lead to more serious conditions. These include bleeding, which in turn leads to pungent and blackish bowel movement or blood in your vomit. It can also create a hole in the wall of the stomach or the duodenum, which leads to sudden and severe stomach aches.

How can I be tested for peptic ulcer and be treated?

There are a number of ways to check for peptic ulcers. If you show symptoms of this condition, your doctor may require you to one of the following:

  • Blood tests
  • Breath tests
  • Lab tests to check for infections in a sample of your bowel movement
  • Upper endoscopy 

In terms of treatment, this really depends on the cause of your condition. That being said, medication is usually the primary remedy.

Those with H. pylori are put on medicines for around 2 week in order to eliminate the infection. This treatment in itself consists of various antibiotics, as well as other medication that can reduce the amount of acid for a longer period of time. In certain severe cases, this medication is continued for the rest of the patient’s life. Sometimes, surgery may even be required.

It’s also important to let your doctor know if you are suffering from any side-effects as a result of this medication.

In order to prevent the recurrence of peptic ulcers and to to help existing ulcers heal, it’s best to refrain from smoking and taking NSAIDs, if this is possible.

After treatment, certain tests may be needed to ensure the infection has been cleared. This is usually done through an upper endoscopy.

What does an ulcer feel like in the beginning? 

How do I know if I have a peptic ulcer? 

What does stomach ulcer pain feel like? 

How can I heal a peptic ulcer quickly? 

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