An “ulcer” is a break in the lining of an organ’s surface; it usually means a break that has been present for some time. Peptic ulcer is the general term to describe an ulcer in the lining of the stomach (gastric) or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine forming the outlet of the stomach). Peptic ulcers are not cancers, although a cancer can present as an ulcer.
Duodenal ulcers are usually caused by a combination of factors such as helicobacter pylori infection (see Index), acid production by the stomach, and impaired resistance of the duodenum to acid.
The cause of gastric (stomach) ulcers is less certain. However, it is known that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and aspirin are a common cause of ulcers in the stomach and duodenum.
Peptic ulcers may cause a number of symptoms including indigestion, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and weight loss. Less common symptoms include bleeding (either vomiting of blood or passage of blood from the bowel - the latter is usually black and is called melena).
Very rarely an ulcer can cause a hole to develop in the wall of the stomach or duodenum, allowing food and gastric secretions to enter the abdominal cavity - this is known as a perforated ulcer and is a surgical emergency.
Peptic ulcers are treated by: (1) reducing acid secretion (2) treating helicobacter pylori infection, and (3) stopping NSAIDS. Acid secretion is reduced with proton pump inhibitors (e.g. esomeprazole). Surgery, highly selective vagotomy, can also achieve this. Also, some lifestyle changes may be necessary for treating peptic ulcer. For instance, cigarette smoking may prolong ulcer healing and therefore smoking should be ceased. There is little role for dietary modification, although any foods which cause the symptoms to occur should be avoided. Excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided.
IMPORTANT HEALTH NOTE
We recommend that people experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms do not attempt self-treatment. With many medications being available over the counter, and numerous do-it-yourself online unqualified remedy recommendation, it is natural to consider treating yourself but we highly recommend against this.
If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms you may have a more significant issue than you would expect from the sometimes muted or infrequent symptom you may be experiencing. It is important to keep in mind that is you are having gastrointestinal symptoms or concerns it is best see a doctor to have those symptoms diagnosed and any conditions treated. Also, it is worth noting, that if health conditions do exist, the earlier they are diagnosed and treated, the greater the probability will be to successfully eliminate or manage a present condition, in fact successful outcomes will increase significantly with early detection.
If you have gastrointestinal concerns or are experiencing any gastrointestinal symptoms, please contact us promptly to schedule a consultation with a physician.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way, does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a best in class physician regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today at (215) 321-4700 to schedule a consultation.