1.What is Peptic Ulcer?
A peptic ulcer is open sores developed in the lining of the oesophagus, stomach, and small intestine. A burning sensation or pain is observed initially in the middle of your stomach, precisely between chest and navel. When your stomach is empty, the pain intensifies and lasts for hours. There are 3 types of peptic ulcers, they are:
- Gastric ulcers: Ulcers that develop in the stomach lining.
- Oesophageal Ulcers: Ulcers that develop in the oesophagus.
- Duodenal ulcers: Ulcers that develop in the duodenum or the beginning part of the small intestine.
Peptic Ulcer Symptoms
Burning pain is a common symptom of an ulcer. Stomach acids intensify the pain on an empty stomach. Other peptic ulcer symptoms include the following;
- Always feeling full
- Fatty food intolerance
The following can be experienced in severe cases:
- Vomiting, sometimes blood traces in red or black colour
- Breathing problem
- Blood in stools
- Drastic weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain
2.Who is at Risk?
Certain factors will worsen the condition even though it may not cause an ulcer. These aspects have to be taken care of otherwise may put you at high risk of ulcers. They are as given below:
- A family history of ulcer.
- Increased age
- Obese people are at higher risk
- Stress and depression leads to ulcers
- Certain blood group like “O”
- Smoking, chewing tobacco, and excessive alcohol intake increase the risk of ulcers.
- Those who consume caffeinated drinks excessively.
- Those who eat spicy foods and foods with high acid content will develop ulcer gradually.
- Those who suffer from a sleep deficit.
- Those who are socially deprived
- Those who are anaemic are at high risk
- Those who take NSAIDs and oral steroids
Peptic Ulcer Causes
When there is excessive acid production in the digestive tract it destroys the inner stomach line and small intestine causing peptic ulcer. Other common peptic ulcer causes include:
- A Bacterium – Helicobacter pylorus is a bacterium that lives in the mucous layer of the inner lining of the stomach and small intestine. These bacteria can cause inflammation of the stomach lining that lead to an ulcer. This infection may spread from person to person through close contact, food or water.
- Regular use of pain killers – Certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin can cause irritation or inflammation of the stomach lining and small intestine if consumed daily.
- Other Medications – Other medicines like steroids, anticoagulants, low-dose aspirin, Actonel, Fosamax etc when taken along with NSAIDs play the role of peptic ulcer risk factors.
3.How is Peptic Ulcer diagnosed?
For peptic ulcer diagnosis, first, a physical examination will be conducted by the peptic ulcer doctor and they will check for your family history and medical history. Afterwards, you may have to undergo the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:
- A lab test to detect the presence of H.pylori – This is recommended by a doctor to check the presence of helicobacter pylori in your blood, or stool.
- A breath test is conducted using radioactive carbon to detect the presence of H.pylori. This is considered more accurate than blood or stool tests.
- Endoscopy – In some cases, an endoscopy is advised to examine stomach, oesophagus and small intestine. This is recommended by the doctor if you are old and showed the symptoms like difficulty eating and swallowing, excessive weight loss, and bleeding. If the ulcer is detected, small tissue samples will be collected and send for biopsy.
- Upper gastrointestinal series – Also known as barium swallow, and this X-ray of the upper digestive system makes the ulcer more visible in the image.
If you take antacids regularly, it shall be informed to the doctor as the peptic ulcer test results may show a false negative. The doctor will suggest you discontinue for a period before you provide the sample for testing.
How is Peptic Ulcer Treated?
Peptic Ulcer treatment is started by the doctor depending on the cause. It involves eliminating the bacteria H.pylori if they are present and reducing the use of NSAIDs. The treatment also include medicines for peptic ulcer such as antibiotics that kills H.pylori, histamine blockers that reduce acid production, and medicines that block acid production and speed up the healing process.
To find a specialist for peptic ulcer cure, you may logon to Cure.fit, one of the leading healthcare providers in India. They have experts who are well qualified and experienced in different streams of medicine. If your child is suffering from a suspected case of peptic ulcer, you may first check with paediatricians.
4.How can Peptic Ulcer be Prevented?
For peptic ulcer prevention, the following measures can be incorporated in your daily life.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in Vitamin A and C
- Eliminate milk from your diet
- Include probiotic foods
- Change the pain killers used regularly by consulting your doctor
- Quit smoking
- Manage stress
- Get good quality sleep daily by following good sleep hygiene.