is a peptic ulcer?
A peptic ulcer is an inflammation
of the stomach lining or the duodenum (the small colon). The ulcer develops
when the lining of the stomach or duodenum become corroded by stomach acid.
Peptic ulcers are named according to where they are situated. An ulcer in the
stomach is called a gastric ulcer, a duodenal ulcer occurs in the duodenum and
an oesophageal ulcer is situated in the gullet.
are the symptoms of peptic ulcers?
Peptic ulcers do not always
exhibit symptoms, and some people can have an ulcer for a long time without
knowing. They can often be quite painful, though, causing a burning or stabbing
sensation at the point of inflammation. They are aggravated by smoking, drinking
alcohol or fruit juices, and eating spicy foods. Other common symptoms of a
peptic ulcer include:
- Difficulty with swallowing
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Vomiting blood or brown
- Black or tar-like faeces.
- Weight loss.
- Paleness and fatigue,
caused by anaemia.
- Sudden, severe pains
in the abdomen.
causes peptic ulcers?
It has been discovered in
recent years that most peptic ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection. This
bacteria is called Helicobacter pylori.
Ulcers can also be caused
by damage to the stomach lining inflicted by overuse of aspirin or by certain
other prescription drugs, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS).
These drugs are commonly prescribed for arthritis and rheumatism.
There are also some rare
conditions that can cause peptic ulcers as a side effect. These include Crohns
disease and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
can they be treated?
There are treatments for
peptic ulcers, but people who have been diagnosed with ulcers can do a lot to
help themselves by changing certain lifestyle habits.
- Smoking and drinking
alcohol increases the likelihood of an ulcer developing. Quitting smoking
and limiting your drinking will lessen the pain of any ulcer you have and
greatly lessen the chances of developing ulcers in future.
- Limit your intake of
spicy foods and condiments. Pepper, paprika, chillies, curries etc. will provoke
dyspepsia in ulcer sufferers.
- If you have been diagnosed
with a peptic ulcer, or you suspect you may have one, get medical advice before
Peptic ulcers are treated
by prescription of a cocktail of medication including drugs that inhibit the
production of acid and antibiotics that attack the Helicobacter pylori and prevent
it from forming ulcers. If you suspect you have a peptic ulcer, consult your
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