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Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcer is one of the most common diseases today. It refers to an eroded lesion in the gastric intestinal mucosa. An ulcer may form in any part of the digestive tract which is exposed to acid gastric juice, but is usually found in the stomach anti the duodenum. The ulcer located in the stomach is known as gastric ulcer and that located in the duodenum is called a duodenal ulcer. Usually both are grouped together and termed peptic ulcer.

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An ulcer is. Usually one-fourth to one inch in diameter, and it is either round or oval shaped.

Duodenal ulcers are about ten times more frequent than gastric ulcers. They are more common in sedentary workers than manual workers. The incidence of peptic ulcers is four times higher in men than women. Men are more affected by duodenal ulcers whereas women usually get ulcers in the stomach. 80th kinds affect young to middle-aged persons and are most common in the 35-40 age group.

Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers:

The most common symptoms of peptic ulcer are sharp and severe pain and discomfort in the upper central abdomen. The pain is commonly described as burning or gnawing in character. Gastric ulcer pain usually occurs an hour after meals and rarely at night. Duodenal ulcer pain usually occurs between meals when the stomach is emp¬ty and is relieved by food, especially milk. It is often described as hunger pain and gets the sufferer out of bed between 2 and 4 a.m. As the disease progresses there is distension of the stomach due to excessive flatulence. Besides mental tension, insomnia and gradual weakening of the body. It may also cause constipation with occasional blood in the stools. If an ulcer bleeds slowly, there is anaemia.

A really severe peptic ulcer can lead to serious com¬plications like haemorrhage, perforation or obstruction of the orifice through which the food passes from the stomach to the intestine. Unless treated in time, it can lead to massive bleeding and shock, or even death.

Causes of Peptic Ulcers:

Peptic ulcers result from hyperacidity which is a condition caused by an increase in hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This strong acid secreted by the cells lining the stomach affects much of the break-down of food. It can be potentially dangerous and, under certain circumstances, it may eat its way through the lining of the stomach or duodenum producing, first, irritation of the stomach wall and eventually an ulcer.

Dietetic indiscretion, like overeating, taking of heavy meals or highly spiced foods, coffee, alcohol and smoking are the main factors contributing to this condition. Alcohol is a very powerful acid producer and has a burning effect on the stomach lining. Coffee also increases the production of acid especially when itis taken black The ingestion of certain drugs, particularly asprin, food poisoning, infections like influenza and septicaemia and gout may also cause ulcers.

Emotional stress or nervous tension also plays a major role in the formation of ulcers. The stomach is a highly sensitive organ and nervous activity can slow down or speed up digestion. Those given to excessive worry, anger, tension, jealousy and hurry are thus more prone to suffer from ulcers than those who are easy-going and relaxed. Ulcer patients are usually highly-strung, irritable and ambitious people who live very active lives. They generally take on many things at one time and worry about the results of their various projects.

Certain occupations appear to predispose individuals to peptic ulcers. Doctors and those in responsible positions in industry such as business executives are particularly prone to it. Presumably stress and strain, hurried and irregular meals, and inadequate mastication are im¬portant contributory factors in their cases.

Peptic ulcers are sores that are caused in the stomachs lining or duodenum, which is the first portion of our small intestine. A peptic ulcer disease present in the stomach goes by the name of gastric ulcer, and when it is present in the duodenum, it is called duodenum ulcer. Peptic ulcers can also be formed in the esophagus, which is above the stomach and makes the connection between the mouth and stomach. However, most often peptic ulcers occur in the duodenum or the stomach. It is possible for you to suffer from duodenum ulcers and gastric ulcers simultaneously, and you can also get more than one ulcer in your lifetime. Peptic ulcer treatment can be performed successfully, but you should make sure to see a doctor once you see the signs of the disease.

Peptic ulcer causes: The stomach lining is normally protected from the destructive effects of acid in the stomach. When the protective agents fail to do their job, an ulcer is formed. Helicobacter pylori, which is the name of a type of bacteria, is considered to be responsible for most of the ulcers. This bacterium tends to weaken the duodenum and the protective layer of the stomach, which allows the destructive digestive fluids to slowly dissolve the stomach lining. Twenty percent of all Americans over the age of 40 have helicobacter pylori present in the digestive tract. However, most of them do not get ulcers.
 
Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for a long time is another cause for peptic ulcers. Using these drugs cause prostaglandins to be blocked. Prostaglandins are substances in the stomach that enable the control of the flow of blood and protect the region from any kind of damage or injury. Some individuals are more vulnerable to the effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs than others. Some of these kinds of drugs include ketoprofen, naproxen, and ibuprofen.  The chances of developing a peptic ulcer differ with each drug. If it is necessary for you to use pain medications over a long-term, make sure to consult your doctor regarding which ones are safe to use. Other peptic ulcer causes are conditions that cause direct damage to the stomach wall or duodenum. These include physical injury, burns, radiation therapy, and heavy drinking.

Peptic ulcer symptom: One of the most common peptic ulcer symptoms is a burning or dull pain in the stomach. The pain can be felt anywhere in the region between your breastbone and your belly. This pain can start during the night or between your meals. It can also stop briefly when you take antacids or have a meal. Peptic ulcer pain can last for a few minutes to many hours and may come and go for many days or weeks. Other peptic ulcer disease symptoms include a sick feeling in your stomach, vomiting, burping, bloating, poor appetite, and weight loss. Even if you experience symptoms that are mild, it is possible that you have peptic ulcers, and you should immediately see a doctor as the condition could worsen if not treated soon.
Some of the signs that will help you identify peptic ulcers are a sharp and sudden pain that persists, bloody or black stools and vomit that has an appearance of coffee grounds, or bloody vomit. These symptoms may be caused if a blood vessel has been broken in an ulcer or the ulcer has gone through your duodenum or stomach wall. It can also be caused if the food in your stomach has been stopped by the ulcer from moving into the duodenum. Treatment must be given immediately when you experience these symptoms and surgery may also sometimes be required.

Peptic ulcer treatment: The main aim in the treatment of peptic ulcers include getting rid of the causes that underlie the disease, preventing further complications and damage and reducing the risk of the condition from recurring. To bring relief to the peptic ulcer disease symptoms, medication is usually given to eliminate the bacteria helicobacter pylori. Surgery may sometimes be used as a peptic ulcer disease treatment, if the condition is serious or if the medications are ineffective.
Depending on the causes of your peptic ulcers, medications maybe prescribed. A H2 blocker (histamine receptor blocker) or a PPI (proton pump inhibitor) helps reduce the acid in the stomach and protects the duodenum and stomach lining. Some antibiotics may also be prescribed to kill the infection caused by helicobacter pylori. Medications containing bismuth subsalicylate help cover the ulcers and protect them from the effects of stomach acid. These medications will help reduce the peptic ulcer pain and cure the ulcers. If your peptic ulcers have been caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, you may be advised by the doctor to avoid taking them or reduce the dosage. Your doctor may also ask you to take a H2 blocker or PPI along with the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Make sure that you take only the medications the doctor prescribes and in the exact way he asks you to even if the pain subsides.
 
Peptic ulcer diet: Along with the medications you take for peptic ulcer treatment, a proper diet should be essentially followed. Adding foods like tea, garlic, onions, cranberries, celery, and apples to your peptic ulcer disease diet will help stunt the growth of helicobacter pylori. You should also eat foods rich in antioxidants; these include fruits such as tomatoes, cherries, and blueberries and vegetables such as bell peppers and squash. It is better for you to eat more lean meats rather than red meats and beans or tofu for protein. Eliminate or reduce trans-fatty acids, which are usually contained in products that are commercially baked like margarine, processed foods, donuts, onion rings, French fries, cakes, crackers and cookies. You should also refrain from drinking beverages like carbonated drinks, alcohol, and coffee that can irritate the lining of the stomach or increase the production of acid.  Make sure that you drink at least six to eight glasses of water and get regular exercise. By following the tips and precautions and leading a lifestyle that is healthy, you should be able to free yourself from peptic ulcers and all the suffering that comes with it.

Submitted on January 16, 2014
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