Peptic ulcers are sores that develop on the inner linings of your stomach and duodenum, which is the first part of your small intestine. A peptic ulcer is a disease that happens due to a bacterial infection, which affects the inner walls of your stomach and small intestine. The sores can cause stomach pain.
Your stomach and intestine linings have thick mucus walls that normally protect them against digestive juices. For processing the food particles and aiding their breakdown, various organs of your body release digestive juices and enzymes. These juices are very acidic and can damage your stomach and intestines, which is why a thick layer forms a protective shield to the stomach and small intestines.
Causes of peptic ulcer disease
When the thick wall gets damaged owing to some infection, it leads to the development of ulcers in your stomach and the duodenum. And when these ulcers get exposed to these acidic digestive juices, it produces burning sensation and pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, peptic ulcer disease can occur because of two reasons:
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
H. pylori is a common contributor to peptic ulcers. Moreover, This is a bacterium that can lead to the development of ulcers in your stomach and duodenal walls, which causes burning pain in your upper digestive tract.
Pain reliever medications
Long-term use of pain reliever medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, can contribute to ulcer formation in the upper digestive tract.
Symptoms of peptic ulcer disease
People with peptic ulcers may experience some common symptoms such as – burning stomach pain, nausea, intolerance to oily or fatty foods, feeling bloated or full, and heartburn. The release of gastric and duodenal juices worsens the pain and burning sensation. Some people may remain asymptomatic throughout, while some might experience several severe symptoms of this disease.
The severe symptoms of peptic ulcer are listed below:
- Vomiting – It may appear red or dark colored.
- Breathing problems
- Dark or black stools
- Weight loss
- Appetite changes
- Severe pain in the upper abdomen
Health complications of peptic ulcers
If you ignore the symptoms and leave the ulcers untreated for a long time, then you may experience some health complications that are listed below:
Moreover, This is the most common complication of stomach ulcers. It usually happens when the ulcer develops close to blood vessels. It can cause slow bleeding. The gradual and long-term blood loss can potentiate the risk of anemia, which can give rise to fatigue, breathing problems, heart palpitations, pale skin, bloody vomit, and passing bloody or black stools.
The ulcer formation can cause a hole, which splits the walls of your stomach or small intestine open. This can potentiate the risk of peritonitis, which is a rare condition that causes the bacteria in your stomach to escape through the hole and infect the walls of your digestive tract.
Gastric outlet obstruction
Stomach ulcers can cause obstruction and prevent the passing of food through the digestive tract.
- Gastric cancer
Diagnostic tests for peptic ulcers
As per the Cleveland Clinic website, your healthcare provider will examine your condition and ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing and for how long it has been so. Also, they will ask whether you are taking any NSAID medications because it is one of two major contributors to peptic ulcers. If you are not using NSAID drugs, then the reason for peptic ulcers can be H. pylori infection. For performing proper diagnosis, they will suggest some tests that are given below:
H. pylori tests
These tests include blood, stools, and breath tests to detect the infection caused due to the H. pylori bacteria. The infection may sometimes not give rise to symptoms. But some people may experience some disorders related to their digestive system. The test looks for the H. pylori bacteria in the digestive tract. If there is a presence of bacteria, then the healthcare provider will prescribe appropriate treatment for treating the ulcers and digestive disorders.
Moreover, Endoscopy is performed with the help of an endoscope, which is a small lighted tube having a tiny camera attached to it. The endoscope is inserted through your throat and into your stomach to detect the ulcers in the linings and identify the root cause of the disorders related to your digestive system. This procedure is done by the medical practitioner.
To obtain a clear image of your internal organs, your healthcare provider will suggest imaging tests such as X-ray scans and CT scans. Before the tests, one has to drink an oral contrast to obtain a clearer image of the digestive tract. If the image generated shows the presence of ulcers on the linings, then your healthcare provider will begin the right treatment.
Treatment for peptic ulcers
Do not ignore the symptoms of ulcers. Leaving it untreated can make the symptoms worse and deteriorate the condition. Timely treatment will reduce the risk of health complications. For treating the ulcers, your healthcare provider will suggest an endoscopy procedure to inject medications into the affected area.Moreover, The ulcer can also be sealed through a medical procedure, which will prevent internal bleeding. Besides, they will prescribe medications to treat the ulcers and heal the area.