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Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers are open and painful sores that develop either in the lining of the stomach or in the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum.
A gastric ulcer occurs in the stomach.
A duodenal ulcer occurs in the first part of the small intestine.
What Causes Ulcers?
Although there is no single cause of ulcers but they are believed to be formed due to an imbalance of digestive fluids in the stomach and duodenum. Along with this, an infection with a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is also considered to be a reason for ulcers.
Factors that can increase the risk for ulcers include:
Have a family history of ulcers
Have another serious illness such as liver, kidney, or lung disease
Age 50 or older
Use of painkillers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Excess acid production from gastrinomas
Excessive alcohol intake
Smoking
Tobacco chewing
Radiation
What Are the Symptoms of an Ulcer?
Ulcers that are small in size may not cause any symptoms. But some ulcers can cause serious symptoms like:
A gnawing or burning pain in the middle or upper stomach between meals or at night
Chest pain
Bloating
Heartburn
Dark or black tarry stool
Vomiting blood
Weight loss
Fatigue
Feeling of fullness
Early hunger
Mild nausea
Diagnosis
Diagnosis of an ulcerneedsthorough historytaking and physical examination of the patient followed by following diagnostic tests:
Upper endoscopy (EGD)
Tests for H. pylori
Hemoglobin blood test
Stool occult blood test
Upper GI series
How Are Ulcers Treated?
Ulcers need to be treated properly otherwise they can lead to serious health problems. They can be treated by making lifestyle changes, taking medication, and/or undergoing surgery.
Medication: The choice of medication for peptic ulcers specifically depends upon the cause and include antibiotic medications to kill H. pylori.
Surgery: Surgery is not required in all cases as medication proves to be most effective and helps in curing and healing the ulcers