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Peptic Ulcers Specialists in Concord, NC

What Are Peptic Ulcers?

A peptic ulcer is a small sore that develops in your stomach or duodenum. In some cases, a peptic ulcer may develop in the esophagus, or “food pipe” that connects your throat to your stomach.

The two most common types of peptic ulcers are stomach ulcers and duodenal ulcers. As their name suggests, stomach ulcers develop in the lining of the stomach. Duodenal ulcers develop in the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine.

Common Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers

Burning Pain is the most common symptom of peptic ulcers. The pain may:

  • Be felt anywhere from your navel up to your breastbone
  • Flare at night or when you're stomach is empty
  • Be temporarily relieved by certain foods or acid-reducing medication
  • Disappear and then return for a few days or weeks

In severe cases of peptic ulcers, symptoms can include:

  • severe pain in your mid to upper abdomen
  • dark or black stool resulting from bleeding
  • vomiting
  • weight loss

Common Causes of Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers happen when the acids that help you digest food damage the walls of the stomach or duodenum. The most common cause is infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Another common cause is the long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. It's a myth that spicy foods or stress cause peptic ulcers. While these factors may aggravate ulcers, most are caused by infections, certain medications or other digestive conditions.

How To Get Diagnosed

To see if you have an H. pylori infection, your doctor may test your blood, breath or stool. Your provider also may recommend endoscopy to view inside your stomach/GI tract. In an endoscopy, your doctor passes a small, lighted tube down your throat and into your stomach. This tube, known as an endoscope, includes a tiny camera that allows your gastroenterologist to look at your throat, stomach and duodenum for signs of peptic ulcers.

Are There Any Risk Factors For Peptic Ulcers

Certain factors can increase your risk for peptic ulcers. These risk factors include:

  • Frequent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • A family history of ulcers
  • Illness, such as kidney, liver, or lung disease
  • Regular consumption of alcohol
  • Smoking

Possible Complications of Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inner lining of the stomach, upper small intestine, or esophagus. They can be caused by the erosion of the protective lining due to factors such as infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), excessive stomach acid production, and other factors. Complications of peptic ulcers can be serious and may include:

  • Internal bleeding: Ulcers can cause erosion of blood vessels, leading to internal bleeding. This can result in symptoms such as black, tarry stools (melena) or vomiting of blood (hematemesis). Severe bleeding may require urgent medical attention.
  • Perforation: A peptic ulcer can create a hole in the wall of the stomach or intestine, allowing the contents of the digestive tract to leak into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to a serious infection known as peritonitis, which requires immediate medical intervention.
  • Obstruction: Swelling and inflammation around the ulcer site can cause narrowing of the digestive tract, leading to obstruction. This obstruction can cause symptoms like vomiting, bloating, and significant discomfort.
  • Scarring: Healing of ulcers can result in the formation of scar tissue, which may lead to narrowing or strictures in the affected areas. This can impede the normal passage of food through the digestive tract.
  • Increased risk of stomach cancer: Long-standing H. pylori infection and chronic peptic ulcers may increase the risk of developing stomach cancer, although this is a relatively rare complication.
  • Gastrointestinal complications from medications: The use of NSAIDs, which can contribute to the development of peptic ulcers, may also lead to complications such as gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney problems.

It's essential to seek medical attention if you suspect you have a peptic ulcer or are experiencing symptoms such as persistent abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or changes in stool color. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and promote healing. Treatment typically involves medications to reduce stomach acid, antibiotics to treat H. pylori infection (if present), and lifestyle modifications.

What is The Treatment For Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers will get worse if not treated. Treatment may include medicines to reduce stomach acids or antibiotics to kill H. pylori. Antacids and milk can't heal peptic ulcers. Avoiding alcohol and not smoking can help. You may need surgery if your ulcers don't heal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are peptic ulcers common?

Peptic ulcers are relatively common, affecting millions of people worldwide. They can develop in the stomach (gastric ulcers) or the upper part of the small intestine (duodenal ulcers). Various factors contribute to their occurrence, including Helicobacter pylori infections, prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and lifestyle factors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Do peptic ulcers go away?

Peptic ulcers can be effectively treated with medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes, in severe cases, surgical interventions. With appropriate medical intervention, the majority of peptic ulcers heal within a few weeks to a couple of months. However, it's crucial to complete the prescribed course of treatment and address underlying causes to prevent recurrence.

Can peptic ulcer cause diarrhea?

Yes, peptic ulcers can cause diarrhea, especially if the ulcer is located in the duodenum. The increased acidity in the stomach due to the ulcer may lead to rapid emptying of the stomach contents into the small intestine, contributing to diarrhea. Treating the underlying cause of the peptic ulcer and managing symptoms are essential steps in addressing associated digestive issues.

How long does it take to heal peptic ulcer?

The healing time for peptic ulcers varies based on factors such as the size of the ulcer, the underlying cause, and the effectiveness of the treatment. With appropriate medical care, including medications to reduce stomach acid and antibiotics for H. pylori infections, most peptic ulcers heal within four to eight weeks. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding certain foods and substances, also contribute to a speedier recovery.

What to eat with peptic ulcer?

A peptic ulcer-friendly diet includes foods that are gentle on the stomach lining. Opt for bland, easily digestible options such as bananas, rice, plain yogurt, and lean proteins. It's advisable to avoid spicy, acidic, and heavily processed foods, as well as caffeine and alcohol. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a dietitian can provide personalized dietary recommendations for managing peptic ulcers.

Can a peptic ulcer cause chest pain?

Yes, peptic ulcers can cause chest pain, especially if the ulcer is located in the upper part of the stomach. The pain may be described as burning or gnawing and can sometimes be confused with heart-related chest pain. Seeking medical attention to differentiate between gastrointestinal and cardiac causes is crucial if chest pain is a symptom.

Can stress cause a peptic ulcer?

While stress itself may not directly cause peptic ulcers, it can contribute to their development or exacerbation. Prolonged stress can lead to increased stomach acid production and compromise the protective mechanisms of the stomach lining, making it more susceptible to damage from factors like H. pylori infections or NSAID use. Stress management techniques are important in preventing and managing peptic ulcers.

Is milk good for peptic ulcer?

While milk was traditionally considered a remedy for ulcers, it is now understood that excessive milk consumption may stimulate acid production and provide only temporary relief. Moderation is key, and individuals with peptic ulcers should focus on a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized dietary advice tailored to individual needs.

Can GERD cause peptic ulcers?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can contribute to the development of peptic ulcers. The backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus associated with GERD can irritate the stomach lining, potentially leading to the formation of ulcers. Treating GERD with medications and lifestyle modifications is important in managing and preventing peptic ulcers.

Can peptic ulcer cause back pain?

Yes, peptic ulcers can cause back pain, particularly if the ulcer is located in the posterior part of the stomach. The pain may radiate to the back, and in some cases, it can be confused with other back-related issues. Seeking medical attention for a thorough evaluation and diagnosis is crucial if back pain is a persistent symptom associated with peptic ulcers.

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Northeast Digestive Health Center
1070 Vinehaven Drive NE
Concord, North Carolina 28025
Phone: (704)783-1840
Fax: (704)783-1850
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