Peptic Ulcers: What You Need to Know

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Are you suffering from burning stomach pain or severe heartburn? If so, you may be living with a peptic ulcer. A peptic ulcer occurs when an open sore develops on the internal lining of your stomach. The three types of peptic ulcers include:

  • Esophageal ulcers or ulcers located in your esophagus
  • Gastric ulcers or ulcers located inside your stomach
  • Duodenal ulcers or ulcers that are located in the upper portion of your small intestine

Common Symptoms Associated with Peptic Ulcers

The most common symptom associated with peptic ulcers is a sharp pain in the stomach area. Other symptoms include the following;

  • Feeling full or bloated
  • Recurrent burping or belching
  • Intolerance to fatty foods
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting

Causes

The lining of your stomach, small intestine, and esophagus can be affected by a number of different factors. The most common of these, which can lead to peptic ulcers include:

  • Bacterial infection in the stomach from helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • Frequent or long term use of ibuprofen, aspirin, or other inflammatory medicines.

Other factors that can negatively affect the lining of your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine include:

  • Tobacco use/smoking and consumption of alcohol
  • Radiation therapy or exposure to environmental radiation
  • Stomach cancer

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your doctor will perform a physical examination and review your symptoms. If they suspect that you may have peptic ulcers, they will likely recommend a test for the H. pylori bacteria as they are a common cause of peptic ulcers.  

The test samples can be collected from your blood, breath, or stool. Your doctor may also perform an endoscopy, which involves using a device with a camera and inserting it into your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine to look for signs of peptic ulcers.

Treatment typically includes one or more of the following:

  • Prescription antibiotics to kill the H. pylori infection.
  • Medications that alter your body’s acid and acid production in order to promote healing of the peptic ulcer. These medications can block or reduce acid production or neutralize your stomach acid.
  • Medications that help to protect the lining of your stomach, esophagus, and small intestine.

Contact Birmingham Gastroenterology Associates

The board-certified physicians at Birmingham Gastroenterology Associates specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of digestive conditions, including peptic ulcers. To schedule an appointment at one of our eight office locations, call (205) 271-8000.