A peptic ulcer is a erosion in the lining of the stomach or duodenum, the beginning of the small intestine. Less commonly, a peptic ulcer may develop just above the stomach in the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.
What causes it?
A peptic ulcer develops when stomach acids errode the stomach’s lining of protective mucus. Peptic ulcers most commonly are caused by the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Aspirin is the NSAID most likely to cause ulcers.
Peptic ulcers may also develop from the presence of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), and decreases the protective lining of the stomach to protect against gastric acids, it also increases production of stomach acids and infection. Some medications, and other disorders cause increased production and secretion of the stomachs digestive juices. Tobacco use, alcohol consumption and caffeine can cause ulcers as well.
What are the symptoms?
Peptic ulcer symptoms include indigestion and heartburn in the middle of the upper abdomen, nausea and decreased appetite, weight loss and recurrent gastric bleeding. The pain may be relieved by eating or taking antacids, and may get worse a couple of hours after meals or before meals.
If a peptic ulcer is bleeding, the patient may vomit bright red blood or digested blood that looks like brown coffee grounds and have black, tarry bowel movements.
How is it diagnosed?
To diagnose a peptic ulcer, our physicians will evaluate your full medical history, and perform an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) to determine if the patient has a gastric ulcer. An endoscopy is considered the best procedure for diagnosing gastric ulcers and for taking samples of stomach tissue for biopsies. An endoscope is a slender tube-shaped instrument that allows the doctor to view the tissues lining the stomach and duodenum.