What Is An Ulcer?
A duodenal ulcer is a sore or lesion that develops in the mucous membranes that line the duodenum, the upper part of the small intestine. Hydrochloric acid and pepsin, present in the stomach to help in the digestion of food, contribute to ulcer formation.
The membranes of the gastrointestinal system secrete mucus in order to protect the tissues against the hydrochloric acid and pepsin. If the lining becomes irritated from excess acid, drugs like aspirin or a bacterial infection, they can cause damage to the membranes. If the membranes become damaged, enzymes can eat away the protected tissue and cause an ulcer. When this occurs in the duodenum, duodenal ulcer treatment is then required.
Causes of Duodenal Ulcers
Research shows that 80 percent of gastric ulcers and 90 percent of duodenal ulcers develop due to infection from the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterium. Although acid, pepsin and lifestyle (smoking, abuse of alcohol, bad diets and stress) play a role in ulcer development, H. pylori is considered to be the main cause. This bacterium is said to produce substances that weaken the protective mucus of the stomach, making it more susceptible to the damaging effects of acid and pepsin.
Symptoms of A Duodenal Ulcer
How will you know if you have a duodenal ulcer? Although each individual may experience symptoms differently, the most common ulcer symptom is usually a nagging or burning pain in the abdomen between the breastbone and the navel. Other symptoms which are less common are:
- Poor appetite
- Feeling of fatigue and weakness
Prompt Initiation of Treatment
Prompt initiation of duodenal ulcer treatment can prevent potentially serious complications. Complications from ulcers include:
- Bleeding in the duodenum
- [erforation by the ulcer causing bacteria and partially digested food to spill into the peritoneum c cause peritonitis (an inflammation of the abdominal cavity and wall).
- Narrowing and obstruction of the intestinal opening where the duodenum is attached. This obstruction can prevent food from leaving the stomach and entering the small intestine.
Diagnosis for a stomach or duodenal ulcer is usually proven by a barium meal x-ray or gastroscopy. During gastroscopy a test can be performed to identify the presence of Helicobacter pylori. If this is detected , your doctor will prescribe a specific course of antibiotics. He may also prescribe an anti-ulcer medication to eradicate the bacteria, heal the ulcer and prevent a recurrence of the ulcer
Duodenal ulcers like all ulcers can be extremely painful. It is important to treat them promptly not only to ease the pain but to avoid complications aforementioned: ulcer hemorrhage, perforation, penetration into a blood vessel by the ulcer, and obstruction. Any or all of these complications can lead to death. Duodenal ulcers are known to cause significant mortality. The rates of complications and mortality are generally increased in elderly sufferers. The elderly are also more prone to suffer from duodenal ulcers. In recent years there has been an increase of these ulcers in women and a decrease in men.
Life-style Treatment Options
Treatment options are simple for duodenal ulcers caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.
- Follow a sensible diet.
- Quit smoking if you are a smoker.
So it means making lifestyle changes. If you smoke, consume alcohol, take aspirins and NSAIDs, quit doing those things. Take acid-blocking medications and medications which protect the lining of the stomach and duodenum. Try as much as possible to to avoid physical and emotional stress.
Treatment For H pylori Bacterium
Keep in mind that no single medication will work to get rid of H pylori infection. Some triple therapy and dual therapy combinations have been proven to work well for most people. Triple therapy is a combination of bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) and the antibiotics tetracycline and metronidazole.
The dual therapy comprises two antibiotics amoxicillin and metronidazole. Some people’s infections are resistant to metronidazole. Clarithromycin can be substitutes in these cases.
Medications are usually effective and surgery is rarely required. Excessive bleeding from an ulcer may sometimes require urgent endoscopy or surgery. An endoscope can help to repair damaged, bleeding blood vessels.
Correct Diagnosis Is Important
It is comforting to know that once the H pylori bacteria are eradicated from the digestive tract, they do not return; the ulcers usually heal completely. Remember though that it is very important to have a correct diagnosis for duodenal ulcer treatment to work. If you are diagnosed with a duodenal ulcer, it is important to ascertain which of the most common causes is responsible. If the ulcer was caused by infection with H pylori, it requires more serious treatment than simple lifestyle changes.
3. Digestive Disorders