Ulcers Gastric & Duodenal

An ulcer is a break or erosion in the mucous membrane, which lines the alimentary canal, which fails to heal and will continue to become inflamed. Gastric ulcers are found in the stomach and duodenal ulcers are found in the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine found following on from the stomach.

Gastric Ulcers are caused by the action of acid and other digestive juices on the lining of the stomach/ duodenum. Certain foods, alcohol, smoking and stress are all risk factors, which can irritate the lining in susceptible individuals. Certain drugs such as aspirin and some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and Voltarol can irritate the lining especially if taken regularly over a long period of time. This is one of the reasons you need to take this type of medicine after food and not on an empty stomach as the presence of food can help to line the gut and protect the actual linings from being irritated.

Symptoms include pain, vomiting after a meal, indigestion and heartburn. One of the complications of gastric and duodenal ulcers is that they can bleed if they erode through a blood vessel causing a hemorrhage and blood may be present in vomit or may pass out in the stools and give it a black tarry color known as Melaena.

Sometimes scarring following the healing of an ulcer can lead to obstructions. Some ulcers will grow and finally erode the wall of the duodenum or stomach and cause a perforation, which is a surgical emergency.

Treatment to neutralize the acidity of the digestive juices can help to relieve the symptoms of the ulcer. Stopping smoking and reducing stress levels can help prevent reoccurrence. Avoidance of certain acidic foods and alcohol can also help relieve the symptoms. However in some instances this is not enough as some people produce abnormally large amounts of acid. In order to control the acid production certain drugs can be used which block the production or an alternative is to resort to surgery to cut the vagal nerve, which controls the secretion of acid, produced.

Additional Medical Conditions:

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