Being diagnosed with peptic ulcers is very common. Nearly 10% of Americans are diagnosed with having peptic ulcers sometime throughout their lives. A peptic ulcer is an open sore inside the lining of the stomach, esophagus or small intestine. A person with a peptic ulcer will most likely suffer from abdominal pain, which is the most common symptom of the condition. Although peptic ulcers can cause pain and discomfort, they are treatable and recovery is usually achieved through medications and lifestyle changes.
Peptic ulcers seem to be caused by medications and bacterial infections. Diet, stress and other lifestyle factors used to be blamed for the cause of peptic ulcers but research has shown that those typically do not cause the ulcers to originate. However, once a person has a peptic ulcer, certain foods and beverages may irritate the ulcer and cause it to feel worse. The pain from the ulcers can last anywhere from a short amount of time up to several hours. Pain may increase when the stomach is empty or at night while a person is resting. The reason for this is because the ulcers are worsened when stomach acid comes in contact with the open wounds in the stomach lining. When there is no food in the stomach to coat the wounds the acid has a chance to build up and aggravate the ulcers.
If a peptic ulcer gets too severe, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, blood in vomit or stools, weight loss, or appetite changes may occur. If any of these symptoms occur you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Peptic ulcers need to be treated medically. You may be able to fend off some of the symptoms through use of antacids, but they will not actually cure the bleeding ulcers.
Depending on the location of the ulcer determines the correct name for the ulcer diagnosed. A peptic ulcer that is located inside the actual stomach is known as a gastric ulcer. If an ulcer is located in the first part of the small intestine then the ulcer is known as a duodenal ulcer. Ulcers that are located in the lower esophagus are called esophageal ulcers and are often related to the condition GERD (chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Once your ulcer has been located and diagnosed there are medications that can be taken to help cure the condition. Since the bacteria H.pylori has been determined to cause peptic ulcers it is often necessary to treat the patient with an antibiotic to kill the bacteria. In order to stop the pain in the stomach during the healing process, the use of antacids can keep acid levels at a minimum to avoid a burning sensation in the stomach. Also acid blockers can be used. Acid blockers are also known as histamine blockers. They reduce the amount of hydrochloric acid that your body releases into the digestive tract. With less acid in the stomach the ulcer has a greater chance of healing and the stomach has less pain. If these medications do not work there are other options the doctor may choose to use to solve your peptic ulcer problems. These methods are typically the first line of treatments used to treat peptic ulcers.
Some lifestyle changes may also be beneficial to minimizing pain of an ulcer or preventing new ulcers from developing. Smoking can increase the chance of getting peptic ulcers as well as consuming too much alcohol. If you smoke or drink moderate amounts then it is in your best interest to refrain from doing so in order to allow your stomach a chance to heal. Also try to avoid using a lot of pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or other NSAIDs that can trigger ulcers in the stomach.
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