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Understanding Peptic Ulcer Disease

The digestive system helps convert our meals into usable forms for the cells in our body. This is necessary for good health and well-being. When there is an injury or tear to body surfaces lined by cells, it is called an ulcer.

These sores may be found in any part of the digestive system, but the stomach and the duodenum, a part of the small intestine that immediately follows the stomach, are the most commonly affected areas.

What causes peptic ulcer disease?

Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that resides in the stomach of people with peptic ulcer disease is thought to play a huge role in the development of this disease. Typically, the acids produced in the stomach is well controlled and finely balanced but H. pylori cause a loss of this balance. It causes the body to produce excess stomach acid, leading to the erosion of the normal stomach surface cells, causing ulceration. Some other factors, like an excess intake of some painkillers, alcohol, excessive salt intake, and smoking may cause peptic ulcer disease but H. pylori are responsible for a large chunk of all peptic ulcer diseases.

Who gets peptic ulcer disease?

H. pylori, the biggest cause of peptic ulcer is spread via ingestion of contaminated food and water. While many people have had contact with the bacterium, only about a fifth of these individuals develop peptic ulcer disease.

Globally, there is a decrease in the number of people who have peptic ulcer disease.

What are the symptoms of peptic ulcer disease?

The following are symptoms that may be seen in peptic ulcer disease. These symptoms are exclusive to peptic ulcer disease and only a professional can make a diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease. Ulcers may be of different sizes and this

  • Pain in the centre of the chest. Worse right before or after meals and sometimes causes you to wake up at night.
  • Nausea and bloating
  • Belching
  • Vomiting, which may contain blood
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Passage of dark coloured stools

How is a diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease made?

Your doctor will interview and examine you to gather information. Thereafter, tests may be ordered to make a diagnosis. These may include blood tests, a breath test, a barium meal or an endoscopy, a procedure where a tube with a camera and lighting is used to visualise the body.

How is peptic ulcer disease treated?

Treatment for peptic ulcer disease is often via prescription medicines (antibiotics and antacids) for a few weeks. Most people are treated successfully with medications.

Repair of the ulcerated part may be done via endoscopy; at the moment it is used to confirm the disease. It is a straightforward procedure and they will discharge you on the same day. There are other surgical options for treatment.

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