Peptic ulcer

What is peptic ulcer?

Peptic ulcer is an area of the gastric or duodenal mucous membrane that has eroded as a result of the action of the hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach. It may be in the stomach (gastric ulcer) or in the duodenum (duodenal ulcer).

What are the signs of peptic ulcer?

People with a peptic ulcer may not have any symptoms. However, there are typically indigestion problems and pain in the epigastric region or in the lower part of the thorax. This pain may become more intense before or after meals. If there is a hemorrhage in the ulcer, the vomiting of blood may occur. If the blood has been partially digested it may appear black like coffee grounds.

Feces may also be dark.

What causes peptic ulcer?

There are families that show a predisposition to developing peptic ulcers. Factors that increase the risk of having ulcer are: smoking, drinking alcohol in excessive amounts and using aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs. Finally, the presence of H. pylori bacteria is associated with peptic ulcer.

How is peptic ulcer diagnosed?

Your physician may perform a gastric and duodenal endoscopy to confirm the presence of an ulcer. During the endoscopy, samples of the mucous membrane are typically taken to determine if H. pylori is present. If it is not possible to perform an endoscopy, an X-ray contrast can be performed.

Treatment

Health and diet related measures.

Stopping smoking and the consumption of alcohol, eating small amounts of food at a time, and avoiding foods that irritate the gastric membrane (spicy and fried food, among others) can all help mitigate or eliminate the symptoms associated with peptic ulcers and aid in the healing process.

Medicines.

Inhibitors of gastric acid secretion. If the presence of H. pylori is confirmed, your physician will prescribe medication to eliminate the H. pylori.