Peptic ulcer affects about 4.6 million Americans every year. Peptic ulcer results in open sores forming on the upper portion of the small intestine and the inside lining of the stomach. The first one is known as the duodenal ulcer, and the second type is known as a gastric ulcer. Read on to know more about its symptoms, causes, and risks associated with this condition.
Symptoms of peptic ulcer
If you feel a burning pain in the stomach, then it can be a sign of peptic ulcers, as it is the most common symptom of the disease. The pain can get worse at night or between meals. The acid in your stomach makes it worse. Other than the pain, some other common symptoms of peptic ulcers include feeling bloated or full, intolerance to fatty food, nausea, and heartburn.
Apart from these, the other signs may include:
- Vomiting with the presence of blood
- Presence of dark blood in the stool
- Trouble in breathing
- Feeling faint
- Sudden weight loss
- Change in appetite
Taking acid blockers can relieve the pain temporarily. If it keeps coming back, you need to contact your doctor.
Causes of peptic ulcer
Stomach conditions may have a variety of causes, which is true for peptic ulcers too. Due to different reasons, the acid present in your digestive tract may start eating away at the inner surface of the small intestine or the stomach, which leads to the ulcer. Below is a list of the most common reasons that lead to this behavior.
The insides of your small intestine and stomach are covered by a protective layer called the mucus layer. A very common bacteria called helicobacter pylori lives in this layer. Sometimes, this bacterium can result in inflammation of the inner layer of your stomach, which eventually leads to ulcers. The bacterium can transmit through water, food, and close physical contact.
Certain pain relievers
Certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can irritate the lining of the small intestine and stomach, which causes ulcers. The pain medicines that use NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), ketoprofen, naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox), and a few others.
If you are using certain other medicines with the NSAIDs, the risk of peptic ulcer increases. These medicines include steroids, low-dose of aspirin, anticoagulants, risedronate (Actonel), and alendronate (Fosamax), among others.
Risks of peptic ulcer
Like most other stomach conditions, peptic ulcers can lead to many serious issues if left untreated. It may often cause internal bleeding, which eventually leads to anemia. It may also cause a severe loss of blood. It can also create holes in the wall located inside of the small intestine or stomach. This exposes you to the risk of developing a serious infection. Untreated peptic ulcers can also cause blockage of food that passes through your digestive tract. This leads to weight loss, vomiting, and other issues.
Like most stomach conditions, the risk of getting peptic ulcer increases if you eat spicy food in excess, drink alcohol, or smoke regularly. Leading a healthier lifestyle will decrease the chances of this disease.