Peptic Ulcer Dyspepsiaa
A peptic ulcer is a sore or hole in the lining of the stomach or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).
Peptic ulcers happen when the acids that help you digest food damage the walls of the stomach or duodenum. The most common cause is infection with a bacterium called Heliobacter pylori. Another cause is the long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Stress and spicy foods do not cause ulcers, but can make them worse.
- A burning, aching, gnawing pain between the belly button (navel) and the breastbone. Some people also have back pain. The pain can last from a few minutes to a few hours and may come and go for weeks.
- Pain that usually goes away for a while after you take an antacid or acid reducer.
- Loss of appetite and weight loss.
- Bloating or nausea after eating.
- Vomiting after meals.
- Vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
- Passing black stools that look like tar or stools that have streaks of dark red blood.
Different people have different symptoms, and some people have no symptoms at all.
How are ulcers diagnosed?
Your doctor may be able to make the diagnosis just by talking with you about your symptoms. To confirm the diagnosis one of several tests should be taken. First, your doctor may ask you to take an acid-blocking medication for a short period of time to see if your symptoms improve.
If needed, your doctor may recommend a procedure called an upper endoscopy. It involves inserting a small, lighted tube (endoscope) through the throat and into the stomach to look for abnormalities. This procedure is usually given if you are having severe symptoms of ulcers.
Often, doctors will frequently treat without confirming the diagnosis using endoscopy. If the cause is not likely to be from NSAIDs, then it is very likely to be from H. pylori. Most doctors will now test for H. pylori and will treat specifically for that in addition to giving medications to reduce the symptoms.
H. pylori can be detected either directly by taking a sample during the upper endoscopy described above or indirectly with a blood test or a breath test.
Though ulcers often heal on their own, you shouldn't ignore their warning signs. If not properly treated, ulcers can lead to serious health problems.
What is the Treatment for Peptic Ulcer Disease?
Treatment for peptic ulcer disease involves taking medications that reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach. If an H. pylori infection is present, antibiotics to eliminate the infection can be taken with these medications. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and reducing stress, can help speed the healing of your ulcer and prevent it from recurring.
Will I Need Surgery?
You will only need surgery if an ulcer fails to heal, you have complications, or a perforation or obstruction in the stomach develops. If you have surgery, the surgeon may remove the ulcer altogether, or "oversew" it with tissue taken from another part of the intestine. Other options include tying off the bleeding artery or cutting off the nerve supply to the base of the stomach.