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Peptic Ulcers

  • What are Peptic Ulcers?

    Peptic ulcers are open sores in the lining of the stomach, the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum), or in the oesophagus (food pipe). These painful sores develop when the acidic digestive fluids in the stomach eat away the lining of the organs.

    If peptic ulcers are not treated, they can lead to serious complications including bleeding in the stomach and perforation (tear) of the stomach wall. The peptic ulcers are named according to where they occur:

    • Duodenal ulcers develop in the duodenum
    • Gastric ulcers develop in the stomach
    • Oesophagus ulcers develop in the lower part of the oesophagus
  • The most common causes of peptic ulcers include:

    • Drinking too much alcohol
    • Infection caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacteria found in the lining of the stomach, which can weaken the protective coating and therefore result in the digestive juices reaching the stomach and the duodenum lining
    • Long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like aspirin and ibuprofen
    • Smoking
  • The peptic ulcers may or may not have symptoms. Symptoms depend on the severity of your condition, and they include some of the following:

    • Abdominal pain or bloating
    • Black stool, which is a sign of bleeding
    • Burning sensation between meals in the upper stomach
    • Changes in appetite
    • Heartburn
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Vomiting of blood
  • Treatment of peptic ulcers depends on the severity and the cause of your condition, and it includes:

    • Avoid using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)
    • Stop smoking and drinking alcohol
    • Surgery – in severe cases to repair the stomach wall and stop bleeding
    • Prescribed antibiotics to kill the bacteria if you are infected with H. pylori
    • Acid controling medications to neutralise acid levels in the stomach
  • The most common complications of ulcers are bleeding and perforation (tear) of the stomach or duodenum wall.

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