Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, and Risk Factors of Peptic Ulcer
Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of your stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine. The most common causes of peptic ulcers are infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and long term use of nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. Stress and spicy foods do not cause peptic ulcers. However, they can make your symptoms worse.
Symptoms of Peptic Ulcer
- Burning stomach pain
- Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching
- Intolerance to fatty foods
The most common peptic ulcer symptom is burning stomach pain. Stomach acid makes the pain worse, as does having an empty stomach. The pain can often be relieved by eating certain foods that buffer stomach acid or by taking an acid reducing medication, but then it may come back. The pain may be worse between meals and at night. Ulcers may cause severe signs or symptoms such as:
- Vomiting or vomiting blood which may appear red or black
- Dark blood in stools, or stools that are black or tarry
- Trouble breathing
- Feeling faint
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Appetite changes
Causes of Peptic Ulcer
Peptic ulcers occur when acid in the digestive tract eats away at the inner surface of the stomach or small intestine. The acid can create a painful open sore that may bleed. Your digestive tract is coated with a mucous layer that normally protects against acid. But if the amount of acid is increased or the amount of mucus is decreased, you could develop an ulcer.
Common causes include:
- A bacterium. Helicobacter pylori bacteria commonly live in the mucous layer that covers and protects tissues that line the stomach and small intestine. Often, the H. pylori bacterium causes no problems, but it can cause inflammation of the stomach’s inner layer, producing an ulcer.It’s not clear how H. pylori infection spreads. It may be transmitted from person to person by close contact, such as kissing. People may also contract H. pylori through food and water.
- Other medications. Taking certain other medications along with NSAIDs, such as steroids, anticoagulants, low dose aspirin, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), alendronate (Fosamax) and risedronate (Actonel), can greatly increase the chance of developing ulcers.
Risk factors of Peptic Ulcer
- Smoking: Smoking may increase the risk of peptic ulcers in people who are infected with H. pylori.
- Drinking of alcohol: Alcohol can irritate and erode the mucous lining of your stomach, and it increases the amount of stomach acid that’s produced.
- Untreated stress and
- Eating spicy foods.