What are Peptic Ulcers?

Many people suffer from ulcers that develop on the inside lining of the esophagus and stomach. These open sores are called peptic ulcers and while many people believe eating spicy foods causes them they are actually caused by a bacterial infection or sometimes certain medications.

These ulcers occur when acid in the digestive tract begins to eat away at the inner lining of the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. A normal digestive tract is coated with a layer of mucous that protects against acid.

The most common symptom of peptic ulcers is abdominal pain that may to come and go. Some people will go weeks without any problems while others experience no break from the pain. The pain can be felt anywhere from the mid-section up to the chest area and tens to flare up at night, often getting worse when there is no food in the stomach. Less common symptoms include nausea or vomiting, weight loss, appetite changes or vomiting blood.

Peptic ulcers can be evaluated and examined in an upper GI series or endoscopy.  They are treated through antibiotic medicine that suppresses stomach acids.  This eliminates H. pylori, which is a condition that causes peptic ulcers.   Patients who smoke or take NSAIDs may develop a recurrence of peptic ulcers after receiving treatment.

It’s important to talk with your gastroenterologist if you think you may be experiencing some of these symptoms. Over-the-counter antacids may help temporarily relieve the pain but it won’t solve the problem altogether.

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