Peptic Ulcers: Everything You Need To Know About Them
Like the sores in your mouth, you may develop a sore on the lining of your stomach or duodenum. This is known as a peptic ulcer. If found above your stomach in your oesophagus, it’s known as an oesophageal ulcer.
Causes of Peptic Ulcer
- Long-term use/misuse of OTC drugs
- A bacterial infection caused by Helicobacter Pylori
- Cancerous or non-cancerous tumours in the stomach, duodenum or pancreas (although this is rare)
Signs & Symptoms
- A dull or burning pain in the stomach between your belly button and breast bone triggered typically by acid reflux. The pain may be intermittent or recurring and could last upto a day.
- Feeling bloated, typically after a meal
- Increased burping and flatulence
- Nausea and uneasiness in the stomach
- Unexplained weight loss
Critical Signs & Symptoms
It’s important to treat a peptic ulcer in its nascent stage because it’s an underlying condition that may appear to be dormant but continues to worsen within the body. The following signs are clear red flags that you must visit a doctor:
- Sharp pain in the stomach at a particular spot
- Feeling weak, fatigues, faint
- Shortness of breath
- Blood in vomit that looks coagulated
- Red or black stools
Treating a Peptic Ulcer
1) For peptic ulcers caused by use/misuse of OTC medicines your doctor may:
- Discontinue, change the dosage, or substitute current OTC meds to alternatives that will not aggravate the peptic ulcer.
- Prescribe antacids and medicines to coat, protect and heal your peptic ulcer. These may include proton pump inhibitors (PPI), protectants, and histamine receptor blockers.
2) For peptic ulcers induced by bacterial infections (H.pylori), your doctor may prescribe a regimented course of antibiotics:
- Triple therapy course (7-14 days) of antibiotics clarithromycin, metronidazole or amoxicillin, and a PPI.
- Quadruple therapy course (14 days) of antibiotics tetracycline, metronidazole, bismuth subsalicylate and a PPI. Recommend for those allergic to penicillin, or if the triple therapy has proved ineffective.
- Sequential therapy course (10 days) of a PPI and amoxicillin for first 5 days, and a PPI, clarithromycin and antibiotic tinidazole for the next 5 days. The side effects may include:
- Diarrhoea or darkened stools
- Redness of skin, darkened tongue
- Altered sense of taste
- Vaginal yeast infections
- Headaches and nausea
3) For peptic ulcers caused by cancerous and non-cancerous tumours your doctor may:
- Prescribe medicines, antibiotics and recommend lifestyle changes
- Advise surgery
- Suggest chemotherapy to treat Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
- Quit smoking
- Avoid alcohol
- Eat small, frequent meals
- Eat 2-3 hours before going to bed
- Lose weight
- Increase water intake
- Avoid spicy food and meats
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