An ulcer refers to an open lesion or sore and is mostly found on the mucous membrane of the body. When the ulcer is in the duodenum or stomach it is generally referred to as a peptic ulcer. To be more specific, when it is in the stomach it is referred to as a gastric ulcer and when in the duodenum it is referred to as a duodenal ulcer.
Caused of Duodenal and Gastric Ulcers
‘What causes ulcers?’ is a question asked by many people especially because of the confusing information related to this condition. A few years ago, lifestyle factors such as diet and emotional stress were believed to cause ulcers. There are many people who still believe that peptic ulcers are caused by stress. Researchers have however determined that ulcers are caused by stomach acids such as hydrochloric acid and pepsin.
Modern medicine has indicated that about 90% of duodenal ulcers and 80% of gastric ulcers develop due to bacterium infection. The Helicobacter pylori also known as H.pylori is the main cause of ulcers. Researchers believe that though lifestyle, acids and pepsins play a role in the development of ulcers, H.pylori is the primary cause of ulcers in most of the cases.
Factors Causing the Development of Ulcers
Helicobacter pylori has been found to be the main cause of ulcer development as the bacterium, through the substances it produces, weakens the protective mucus produced by the stomach making the walls of the stomach and intestines susceptible to the damages caused by pepsins and stomach acids.
Smoking has been found to increase chances of ulcer development and also slows the healing of existing ulcers. Although no links are proven between alcohol and ulcers, it has been determined that ulcers are common in individuals who suffer from liver cirrhosis, an illness linked to heavy consumption of alcohol. Caffeine increases acid production which increases pain in existing ulcers though stimulation of acids in the stomach is not solely attributed to caffeine.
Emotional stress is no longer seen as a major cause of ulcers though people with ulcer report increased pain when going through stress. Most people continue to believe that people with emotionally stressful lives suffer from ulcers even after medicine disapproves this belief.
Symptoms of Duodenal and Gastric Ulcers
Though different people experience different symptoms the most common symptom is a burning or gnawing sensation that mostly emanates from between the breastbone and the navel. This symptom is mostly experienced between meals, in the early morning hours and ranges between a few hours down to a few minutes. Some of the other symptoms include, vomiting, belching, nausea, poor appetite, loss of weight, and fatigue.
Treatment Of Gastric and Duodenal Ulcers
The treatment used in your ulcers will purely be determined by your doctor after different tests and observations. Some of the factors used in determining the treatment include but not limited to:
- Age and medical history and health
- Condition’s extent
- Tolerance to specific therapies, procedures and medications
- Cause of the condition and your preference and opinion
The treatment plan may include a change in lifestyle. In the past a change in diet was believed to treat ulcers but this has since changed since no specific diet can actively treat ulcers. In case of any pain as a result of eating a specific food, you should discuss this with your doctor and avoid it. Smoking should be stopped as it contributes in the development and the delay in the healing of ulcers.
Treatment of Ulcers Through Medication and Surgery
Medication can be used in the treatment of ulcers. There are medications that are used in killing of H.Pylori as well as some that block the excessive production of stomach acids. There are medications that shield the mucous lining in the stomach from acid related damages but do not inhibit acid production. For people with ulcers that do not respond to medication surgery is a viable option. Some of the surgical procedures include Antrectomy, Pyloroplasty, Vagotomy and Laparoscopic surgery.
Important Fact About the Causes of Ulcers
It is important that you note that stress is not a cause of ulcer but that a very minor factor in the development of the condition. You also should know that ulcers can be successfully treated.