Peptic Ulcers: Information and Solutions

Apr 6, 2019 by

The other day I was walking my dog down the street when I ran into my neighbor who was mowing his yard. We got to chatting, and out of nowhere, he started telling me about his health problems. Apparently, he has a peptic ulcer, and it has been bothering him for a couple of months now. I was confused as to why he would share this with me in passing, but the rest of the walk I kept trying to figure out what a peptic ulcer is. When I got home, I did some research on peptic ulcers, and I found the website for GastroCare LI, which had a lot of information on peptic ulcers and the way they can be treated.

Peptic ulcers are basically open sores on the tissue that lines the inside of your stomach or the inside of your small intestine. These ulcers are called gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers, respectively. These sores happen if your stomach acid eats away at the inner lining of these organs, and they can have serious consequences.

Symptoms of peptic ulcers can be varied, but the most common symptom is a feeling like there is burning in your stomach. Usually, this burning sensation increases when your stomach is empty, like at night or in between meals. This symptom can be alleviated by taking an antacid to temporarily reduce the pain. Interestingly, only about one-fourth of people who have a peptic ulcer experience any symptoms at all, but these can be more dangerous because they are often left untreated which can lead to infection or internal bleeding. Peptic ulcers can also cause mild symptoms including heartburn, bloating, intolerance of fatty food, and increased burping, but they also can have more serious consequences. Severe symptoms include bowel movements that have the consistency of tar or with dark blood in them, nausea, vomiting with or without blood, weight loss, and change in appetite. These more severe symptoms often result from a neglected peptic ulcer that has gone under the radar for too long.

Peptic ulcers can have many causes, but the two most common causes seen by doctors are the overuse of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Ibuprofen and other pain medication like Advil or aspirin can cause the inner lining of the stomach and the small intestine to become inflamed, and if this happens repeatedly over time, there is an increased risk that a peptic ulcer will develop in the lining of one of these two organs. Typically, peptic ulcers occur in older adults because they more frequently take pain medication on a regular basis. The other most common cause is the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. These bacteria usually do not harm humans, and they live in the mucous tissue of the stomach and small intestinal lining. Occasionally, the bacteria can irritate the inner lining, which can lead to a peptic ulcer. Curiously, doctors have still not been able to determine why this happens or how the infection spreads throughout the body, but the medical community continues to research this question.

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