What is Peptic Ulcer Disease?
A peptic ulcer is an open sore within the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine. This type of sore is caused by acid, which is where the term “peptic” comes from.
Roughly half of these peptic ulcers are caused by either an infection with a stomach bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), or by NSAID pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, etc.
Three Types of Peptic Ulcers
There are three basic types of a peptic ulcer: esophageal ulcers, gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers. The difference between these types of peptic ulcers is their location. Gastric ulcers are found within the lining of the stomach while duodenal ulcers exist in the upper region of the small intestine, and esophageal ulcers are located within the esophagus. It is possible for these three types of peptic ulcers to all be present at the same time.
Symptoms of a Peptic Ulcer
Signs and symptoms of any type of peptic ulcer often include:
- Stomach pain (usually described as a burning sensation)
- Acid reflux
- Often feeling bloated or full
- An intolerance to fatty foods
Diagnosing a Peptic Ulcer
More often than not, a patient will not present any of these common symptoms related to a peptic ulcer. To properly diagnose a peptic ulcer, a physician will typically need to perform an endoscopy.
During this simple procedure, the doctor inserts a small, flexible tube with an attached camera down the patient’s throat in order to get a clear visual of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The patient is usually sedated so that they do not feel any discomfort during the endoscopy.
The most common treatment method used for peptic ulcers is some form of medication. This could be in the form of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which work to reduce stomach acid by preventing the parts of cells that produce such acid, or you may be prescribed an antibiotic to get rid of the harmful H. pylori found in your digestive tract.
Prevent Peptic Ulcers
There are also several preventative measures that you can take to reduce your risk of forming a peptic ulcer such as:
- Frequently washing hands with soap and water to stop the spread of infections
- Eating foods that have been cooked completely
- Reduce intake of NSAID pain relievers
- If your peptic ulcers are caused by another type of medication, try to take this medication with food rather than on an empty stomach
- Discuss lower doses of ulcer-inducing medications, or alternative medications, with your doctor
- Avoid alcohol when taking your medication
- If a pain reliever is necessary, try taking it with an antacid or other acid-reducing agent
If you believe that you may be suffering from some kind of peptic ulcer, please visit one of our exceptional gastroenterology consultants today to learn more about how you can treat these painful sores and prevent them from coming back.
To schedule an appointment at Philadelphia Gastroenterology Consultants, please call our office today at (215) 742-9900.