Duodenal Ulcer

Information on the causes of duodenal ulcers and symptoms like erosion of the duodenum.

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  1. What is a Duodenal Ulcer?
  2. Diagnosing a Duodenal Ulcer
  3. What Causes a Duodenal Ulcer?
  4. Help for a Duodenal Ulcer
  5. More Information Duodenal Ulcers

What is a Duodenal Ulcer?

A duodenal ulcer is a raw area or open sore (ulcer) that develops when there is a break in the lining of the duodenum, the upper part of the small intestine which is connected to the stomach. When food passes from your mouth, it moves through the esophagus and into your stomach. From the stomach, it travels into the duodenum. The duodenum produces chemicals and mucus, which protects the tissues and covers the surface from the acid. If the acid damages this protection by breaking through the lining of the duodenum, an ulcer occurs.

Men tend to be affected more frequently by duodenum ulcers than women. It is also more common in people with a family history of duodenal ulcers.

Diagnosing a Duodenal Ulcer

The diagnosis of a duodenal ulcer is based on the patient’s symptoms, medical history and physical examination. In addition, certain tests may be ordered to determine the diagnosis and they include:
  • Upper GI X-ray
  • Blood tests
  • Endoscopy
  • Biopsy
Symptoms and signs

The common symptoms of a duodenal ulcer include:

  • Upper abdominal pain or pain below the breastbone which usually comes and goes. Often, this pain will occur before meals, when you are hungry and even wake you from your sleep.
  • Stomach bloating
  • Retching
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea or feeling sick
  • Heartburn
  • Bloody stools

Complications that may develop as a result of a duodenal ulcer include bleeding and perforation, where the ulcer pierces right through the wall of the duodenum. This causes immense pain and immediate medical attention is required.

What Causes a Duodenal Ulcer?

Most duodenal ulcers are caused by a chronic infection with a bacteria called H.pylori. Anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen which many people use for muscle pain relief and arthritis also affects the lining of the duodenum and causes excess stomach acid. Other factors that may increase the risk of developing a duodenal ulcer include nicotine, caffeine, excessive alcohol consumption and stress.

Help for a Duodenal Ulcer

The treatment of most duodenal ulcers involves treating the infection with H.pylori. Antibiotics used together with medication needed to reduce stomach acid are prescribed. This combination therapy is called triple therapy and it is generally recommended that the full course be taken to prevent recurrences. However, this may medication may cause side effects such as diarrhea and allergy reactions.

More Information on Duodenal Ulcer

Tips to help prevent a duodenal ulcer

To prevent recurrences of duodenal ulcers, some lifestyle changes are recommended and these include:

    • Eat a high fiber diet that consists of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grain foods
    • Avoid sugary foods that secretes acid
    • Exercise regularly
    • Reduce alcohol consumption and caffeine intake
    • Stop smoking
    • Avoid medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen
    • Learn to manage stress by practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga