Peptic Ulcer Treatment
A peptic ulcer is a sore that develops on the lining of the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine, a region known as the duodenum. Ulcers occur when the lining in these regions breaks, exposing the underlying tissues to stomach acids and enzymes. They are a very common condition, affecting approximately 10 percent of all Americans at some point in their lives. Although stress and diet are sometimes thought of as contributing to the development of ulcers, research suggests that this is not the case. So what causes ulcers?
Causes of Peptic Ulcers
The most current research suggests that bacterial infection might be the actual cause of ulcers. Since the mid-1980s, studies have found that more than 90 percent of people with duodenal ulcers and 80 percent of those with stomach ulcers are infected with Helicobacter pylori, also known as H. pylori. This type of bacteria weakens the mucous that lines the stomach and duodenum, allowing the acid to damage the sensitive tissues underneath. H. pylori is thought to be transmitted through food and water. It has been found in the saliva of infected people, meaning it may be transmitted via kissing or other mouth-to-mouth contact.
Other contributing factors that can make ulcers worse include:
- Overuse of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen and Aspirin
- Alcohol Abuse
- Consuming Too Much Caffeine
- Overindulging in Fatty Foods
- Excess Stomach Acid
Research suggests that smoking increases the risk for duodenal ulcers, drinking alcohol in excess causes more esophageal ulcers, and the chronic use of NSAIDs contributes most to the formation of stomach ulcers. Elderly people are also more susceptible to stomach ulcers, although this may be attributable to increased NSAID use among seniors to manage conditions like arthritis.
If you think you may have an ulcer, contact us to schedule a consultation with Dr. Tabib today.
Symptoms: How To Tell If You Have A Peptic Ulcer
Possible complications of upper endoscopy include bleeding and puncture of the stomach lining. However, such complications are rare.
The procedure usually takes 5 to 10 minutes. Because you will be sedated, you will need to rest at the endoscopy facility for a short period of time until the medication wears off and you are ready to go home.
Your stomach and duodenum must be empty for the procedure to be thorough and safe, so you will not be able to eat or drink anything beforehand. Also, you must arrange for someone to take you home—you will not be allowed to drive because of the sedatives. Dr. Tabib may give you other special instructions.
The most common symptom associated with an ulcer is discomfort in the abdomen. Ulcer pain is usually characterized by the following:
- A Dull, Gnawing Ache
- Chronic, Intermittent Discomfort Over a Period of Weeks
- Flare-Ups 2-3 Hours After Meals, Or On an Empty Stomach
- Relief from Pain After Eating or Antacid Use
In addition to the pain most people experience, ulcers can also cause loss of appetite and attendant weight loss, bloating, belching, nausea, and vomiting. Some ulcers are asymptomatic. However, severe symptoms may indicate perforation, bleeding, or obstruction as a result of your ulcer, and should necessitate immediate medical attention. Symptoms that should prompt a call to your doctor include:
- Sudden, Sharp, or Persistent Pain
- Bloody Stools (May Be Black)
- Bloody Vomit (May Resemble Coffee Grounds)
Diagnosis: Peptic Ulcers
Dr. Tabib will usually check for the presence of an ulcer in one of two ways. The first is the use of a barium drink, which will light up your upper GI tract under X-ray examination. The second is the use of an endoscope, a long flexible tube equipped with a camera. Under light sedation, this device is inserted in the throat and used to explore the upper GI tract. If your ulcer is bleeding, he can use the endoscope to administer medication or cauterize the bleeding.
If an ulcer is found, Dr. Tabib can then test you for the presence of H. pylori. He will test for the presence of antibodies in your system and will adjust your treatment plans accordingly. The tests may include breath, blood, stool, and tissue samples being examined.
Peptic Ulcers Treatment
Since H. pylori infection is the main cause of peptic ulcers, the first course of treatment is antibiotics. These drugs destroy the offending bacteria, which usually results in a quick resolution of the ulcer itself. Dr. Tabib may also recommend the use of proton pump inhibitors and/or H2 blockers to minimize stomach acid. Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers help suppress the secretion of stomach acid. Pepto-Bismol is sometimes used to protect the lining of the stomach, with the helpful side-effect that it kills H. pylori. An average treatment period for H. pylori is two weeks.
If you think you may need peptic ulcer treatment, contact our Los Angeles offices to schedule a consultation with Dr. Tabib today. He can diagnose your condition and put you on a treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms.