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What causes peptic ulcer?

A major causative factor (90% of gastric and 75% of duodenal ulcers) is chronic inflammation due to Helicobacter pylori, a spirochaete that inhabits the antral mucosa and increases gastrin production. Gastrin, in turn, stimulates the production of gastric acid by parietal cells. H. pylori lives and multiplies within the mucous layer that covers and protects tissues that line the stomach and small intestine. Often, H. pylori causes no problems. But sometimes it can disrupt the mucous layer and

inflame and erode digestive tissues, producing an ulcer. Approximately one in six people infected with H. pylori get an ulcer. One reason may be that these people already have damage to the lining of the stomach or small intestine, making it easier for bacteria to invade and inflame tissues.

Another major cause is the use of NSAIDs. The gastric mucosa protects itself from gastric acid with a layer of prostaglandins. NSAIDs block the function of cyclooxygenase 1 (cox-1), which is essential for the production of these prostaglandins. Newer NSAIDs (celecoxib, rofecoxib) only inhibit cox-2, which is less essential in the gastric mucosa, and roughly halve the risk of NSAID-related gastric ulceration. NSAIDs are medications for arthritis and other painful inflammatory conditions in the body. Aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn), and etodolac (Lodine) are a few of the examples of this class of medications. Prostaglandins are substances which are important in helping the gut linings resist corrosive acid damage. NSAIDs cause ulcers by interfering with prostaglandins in the stomach.

Glucocorticoids lead to atrophy of all epithelial tissues. Their role in ulcerogenesis is relatively small.

Stress in the psychological sense has not been proven to influence the development of peptic ulcers. Burns and head trauma, however, can lead to "stress ulcers", and it is reported in many patients who are on mechanical ventilation. Although stress isn't a cause of peptic ulcers, it's a contributing factor. Stress may aggravate symptoms of peptic ulcers and, in some cases, delay healing. You may undergo stress for a number of reasons — an emotionally disturbing circumstance or event, surgery, or a physical trauma, such as a burn or other severe injury.

Smoking leads to atherosclerosis and vascular spasms, causing vascular insufficiency and promoting the development of ulcers through ischemia. Nicotine in tobacco increases the volume and concentration of stomach acid, increasing your risk of an ulcer. Smoking also may slow healing during ulcer treatment.

A family history is often present in duodenal ulcers, especially when blood group O is also present. Inheritance appears to be unimportant in gastric ulcers.

Classical causes of ulcers (stress, tobacco smoking, blood groups, spices and a large array of strange things) are of relatively minor importance in the development of peptic ulcers.

More information on peptic ulcer

What is a peptic ulcer? - Peptic ulcer is a non-malignant ulcer of the stomach (called gastric ulcer) or duodenum. A peptic ulcer of the stomach is called a gastric ulcer.
What causes peptic ulcer? - The major cause peptic ulcer of is chronic inflammation due to Helicobacter pylori. Another major cause is the use of NSAIDs.
What are symptoms of peptic ulcer? - Symptoms of a peptic ulcer can be abdominal pain, hematemesis (vomiting blood), melena (tarry feces due to oxidised iron from hemoglobin), weight loss.
How is peptic ulcer diagnosed? - The diagnosis of peptic ulcer can only be confirmed or excluded by a gastroscopy. Blood test checks for the presence of H. pylori antibodies.
What are the complications of peptic ulcers? - Gastrointestinal bleeding is a serious complication of peptic ulcer. Another serious ulcer complication is perforation.
What treatments are available for peptic ulcers? - Choice of treatment for peptic ulcers depends on whether the ulcer is caused by infection with H pylori.
What medications cure peptic ulcers? - Several combinations of antibiotics kill H. pylori. Antacids relieve symptoms of ulcers by neutralizing stomach acid. 
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