Peptic Ulcer: Management and Prevention

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Peptic ulcer is a condition when painful ulcers or sores appear commonly in the lining of the stomach (gastric ulcer) or duodenum of the small intestine (duodenal ulcer) or less commonly in the esophagus (esophageal ulcer). The most common cause of peptic ulcer brought about by the actions of the acidic gastric juice produced by the stomach. In addition, the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) causes frequent infection and inflammation to the gastrointestinal system. A painful, burning sensation in the upper or middle third of the abdomen is a frequent symptom. Peptic ulcer does not require immediate medical help as it can go away on its own, however, it is still recommended to seek medical attention and treatment to avoid complications from developing, which can include internal bleeding, gastric outlet obstruction and gastrointestinal perforation.

Causes of Peptic Ulcer

There is no single identified cause of peptic ulcer. A recent study shows that peptic ulcer is associated with the imbalance between the digestive fluids in the stomach and the duodenum. The following may lead to the appearance of painful sores:

  • H. pylori
  • Skipping meals
  • Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for a long time – NSAIDs such as naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen
  • When the stomach produces too much acid
  • Stomach cancer
  • Radiation therapy
  • Lifestyle habits such as smoking and taking in too much alcohol

Signs and Symptoms of Peptic Ulcer

Stomach Pain
Pain in the upper or middle third of the abdomen is the most common symptom of peptic ulcer

The following signs and symptoms may present with peptic ulcer:

  • Painful, burning sensation in the upper or middle third of the abdomen
    • Often happens between meals or at night
    • Lasts from several minutes to hours
    • May be recurrent for several days to weeks
  • Chest pain
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Nausea and/ or vomiting that may be with blood in severe cases
  • Change in appetite
  • In severe cases of peptic ulcer, there may be black or dark stool and unintended weight loss

First Aid Management for Peptic Ulcer

Since there is a range of possible causes for peptic ulcer, treatment will also vary, depending on what is causing the sores to present:

  • If there is too much stomach acid produced by the body, take antacids.
  • Medications for peptic ulcer may include proton pump inhibitors and antibiotics that are prescribed by doctors.
  • Endoscopy may be required.

Prevention of Peptic Ulcer

A change in some lifestyle habits can help minimize a person’s risk for developing peptic ulcer.  The following tips may reduce chances of developing peptic ulcer:

  • Eat small but frequent meals. Include fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods in the diet.
  • Do not skip meals as this may trigger the stomach to produce excessive amounts of acid.
  • Limit alcohol drinking to at most two alcoholic beverages a day.
  • If one is smoking, stop.
  • Do not take NSAIDs too often.
  • Wash hands frequently to avoid infections.

Enroll in First Aid Courses to learn how to manage and recognize signs and symptoms of peptic ulcer. Peptic ulcer is a condition when ulcers or sores appear in the lining of the stomach or the duodenum due to the strong gastric juices.

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