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Peptic Ulcers Specialists in Concord, NC

What Are Peptic Ulcers?

A peptic ulcer is a small sore that develops in your stomach or duodenum. In some cases, a peptic ulcer may develop in the esophagus, or “food pipe” that connects your throat to your stomach.

The two most common types of peptic ulcers are stomach ulcers and duodenal ulcers. As their name suggests, stomach ulcers develop in the lining of the stomach. Duodenal ulcers develop in the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine.

Common Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers

Burning Pain is the most common symptom of peptic ulcers. The pain may:

  • Be felt anywhere from your navel up to your breastbone
  • Flare at night or when you're stomach is empty
  • Be temporarily relieved by certain foods or acid-reducing medication
  • Disappear and then return for a few days or weeks

In severe cases of peptic ulcers, symptoms can include:

  • severe pain in your mid to upper abdomen
  • dark or black stool resulting from bleeding
  • vomiting
  • weight loss

Common Causes of Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers happen when the acids that help you digest food damage the walls of the stomach or duodenum. The most common cause is infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Another common cause is the long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. It's a myth that spicy foods or stress cause peptic ulcers. While these factors may aggravate ulcers, most are caused by infections, certain medications or other digestive conditions.

How To Get Diagnosed

To see if you have an H. pylori infection, your doctor may test your blood, breath or stool. Your provider also may recommend endoscopy to view inside your stomach/GI tract. In an endoscopy, your doctor passes a small, lighted tube down your throat and into your stomach. This tube, known as an endoscope, includes a tiny camera that allows your gastroenterologist to look at your throat, stomach and duodenum for signs of peptic ulcers.

Are There Any Risk Factors For Peptic Ulcers

Certain factors can increase your risk for peptic ulcers. These risk factors include:

  • Frequent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • A family history of ulcers
  • Illness, such as kidney, liver, or lung disease
  • Regular consumption of alcohol
  • Smoking

Possible Complications of Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inner lining of the stomach, upper small intestine, or esophagus. They can be caused by the erosion of the protective lining due to factors such as infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), excessive stomach acid production, and other factors. Complications of peptic ulcers can be serious and may include:

  • Internal bleeding: Ulcers can cause erosion of blood vessels, leading to internal bleeding. This can result in symptoms such as black, tarry stools (melena) or vomiting of blood (hematemesis). Severe bleeding may require urgent medical attention.
  • Perforation: A peptic ulcer can create a hole in the wall of the stomach or intestine, allowing the contents of the digestive tract to leak into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to a serious infection known as peritonitis, which requires immediate medical intervention.
  • Obstruction: Swelling and inflammation around the ulcer site can cause narrowing of the digestive tract, leading to obstruction. This obstruction can cause symptoms like vomiting, bloating, and significant discomfort.
  • Scarring: Healing of ulcers can result in the formation of scar tissue, which may lead to narrowing or strictures in the affected areas. This can impede the normal passage of food through the digestive tract.
  • Increased risk of stomach cancer: Long-standing H. pylori infection and chronic peptic ulcers may increase the risk of developing stomach cancer, although this is a relatively rare complication.
  • Gastrointestinal complications from medications: The use of NSAIDs, which can contribute to the development of peptic ulcers, may also lead to complications such as gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney problems.

It's essential to seek medical attention if you suspect you have a peptic ulcer or are experiencing symptoms such as persistent abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or changes in stool color. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and promote healing. Treatment typically involves medications to reduce stomach acid, antibiotics to treat H. pylori infection (if present), and lifestyle modifications.

What is The Treatment For Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers will get worse if not treated. Treatment may include medicines to reduce stomach acids or antibiotics to kill H. pylori. Antacids and milk can't heal peptic ulcers. Avoiding alcohol and not smoking can help. You may need surgery if your ulcers don't heal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are peptic ulcers common?

Peptic ulcers are common. About 4 million people in the United States have an active peptic ulcer at any given time. Doctors diagnose about 350,000 new cases of peptic ulcers every year.

Can NSAIDs cause peptic ulcers?

Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin, for an extended time can lead to peptic ulcer disease. These drugs can irritate the lining of the stomach, prevent the mucosa from producing protective mucus, reduce blood flow to the stomach’s mucosa, and interfere with the healing of a superficial injury to the stomach lining.
NSAIDs reduce pain by blocking enzymes, known as prostaglandins, which trigger fever, inflammation, and pain in response to an injury or illness. While prostaglandins cause pain, they trigger the healing process too. Furthermore, prostaglandins inhibit the secretion of acid, stimulate the secretion of mucus, and contribute to the protection the mucosa provides. In other words, when you take NSAIDs to reduce pain, you may be increasing your risk for peptic ulcers.

Can coffee and spicy foods cause peptic ulcers?

Many people believe that coffee and spicy food can cause peptic ulcers – you may be glad to know that that is not true! It is also untrue that people with ulcers have to eat a bland diet: you can continue enjoying your favorite foods as long as they do not worsen your symptoms.

If I think I have a peptic ulcer, what should I do?

If you have symptoms of a peptic ulcer or at high risk for developing this digestive condition, contact your doctor or gastroenterologist. Your digestion doctor can provide an accurate diagnosis and help you develop a personalized treatment plan that promotes healing.

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Contact Info

Northeast Digestive Health Center
1070 Vinehaven Drive NE
Concord, North Carolina 28025
Phone: (704)783-1840
Fax: (704)783-1850
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