Can your stomach pain be a sign of peptic ulcers?
Treatment for peptic ulcers may be more simple than you think.
What are peptic ulcers?
Peptic ulcers are how health professionals refer to lesions in the gastrointestinal tract. These ulcers usually appear when the internal layer of the digestive system is damaged by the acid and enzymes secreted into the stomach.
They occur more often in the stomach and upper portion of the intestine. Peptic ulcers happen less frequently in other parts of the digestive tract such as the esophagus and lower sections of the bowels.
It is estimated that half a million people in the US develop peptic ulcers every year. Most of those people are aged 25 to 64 years old.
What are the leading causes of peptic ulcers?
The most common cause of a peptic ulcer is the infection by a type of bacteria called H. pylori. These bacteria act by decreasing the resistance of the stomach lining against acid secretion, favoring ulcer formation.
H. pyloriare believed to be present in almost half of the people who develop ulcers, and the treatment of the infection seems to reduce the occurrence of ulcerations significantly.
Another very common cause of peptic ulcers is the long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and diclofenac.
What are the symptoms?
Peptic ulcers are usually marked by intense pain or a burning sensation on the upper part of the stomach. The pain comes and goes, and it happens more frequently when the stomach is empty. Stomach pain at night is also common.
Food ingestion and use of antacids usually alleviate the pain, and that is one of the most striking characteristics of peptic ulcers.
Some other symptoms like vomiting, indigestion and loss of appetite might also be present.
How are peptic ulcers diagnosed?
Your specialist will first evaluate your symptoms and health history. After that, an endoscopy can be used to observe the internal lining of the stomach and the beginning of intestine. The gastroenterologist may also request a urea breath test or an endoscopic biopsy [Office1] to assess the presence of H. pylori.
What is the treatment?
For people who test positive for H. pylori, the recommended treatment includes a course of antibiotics combined with medication that decreases the production of stomach acid, like pantoprazole and rabeprazole.
In case the peptic ulcers are caused by something else other than the bacteria, the best course of action is the use of suppressors of acid production on a long-term basis. Treatment with medication is enough to cure the ulcers in most cases.
Your specialist may also recommend some lifestyle changes such as stopping or reducing the use of NSAIDs if possible, alcohol abstinence and changes in diet.
It is essential to be aware that, depending on your health history, ulcers can come back. For that reason, it is important to notice the triggers and habits that cause symptoms. For most people, peptic ulcers can be cured, and it is indispensable that you search for a specialist that can evaluate your symptoms thoroughly and come up with an action plan.
If you are experiencing stomach pain or have any question or concerns, you can contact us hereto be evaluated by our team of professionals.
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[Office1]Link to endoscopy post