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What is a peptic ulcer?

Peptic ulcer is a non-malignant ulcer of the stomach (called gastric ulcer) or duodenum (called duodenal ulcer). By far most instances are now known to be be due to Helicobacter pylori, a spiral-shaped bacterium that lives in the acid environment of the stomach. These ulcers can also be caused or worsened by drugs such as Aspirin and other NSAIDs. Ulcers are small,

open craters or sores that develop in the lining of the stomach or the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine.

Ulcers penetrate into the lining of the stomach or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). A peptic ulcer is a hole in the gut lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. A peptic ulcer of the stomach is called a gastric ulcer; of the duodenum, a duodenal ulcer; and of the esophagus, an esophageal ulcer. An ulcer occurs when the lining of these organs is corroded by the acidic digestive juices which are secreted by the stomach cells. Peptic ulcer disease is common, affecting millions of Americans yearly. The medical cost of treating peptic ulcer and its complications runs in the billions of dollars annually. Recent medical advances have increased our understanding of ulcer formation.

Peptic ulcers occur only in those areas of the digestive system that come in contact with digestive juices secreted by the stomach. These juices include stomach acid -- basically, hydrochloric acid - and an enzyme called pepsin, which breaks down proteins. While many people with duodenal ulcers have an overabundance of digestive juices spilling down from the stomach, most of those with gastric (stomach) ulcers have normal or even below-normal amounts of stomach acid. Medical researchers, therefore, believe that poor resistance of the protective mucous membrane that lines both the stomach and duodenum may contribute to the development of a peptic ulcer.

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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