Peptic ulcer: Everything you need to know about this deep wound in the stomach or duodenum

Peptic ulcer: Everything you need to know about this deep wound in the stomach or duodenum

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Peptic ulcer is a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract (stomach or duodenum) which can be particularly painful, sometimes even leading to serious complications. The point on this affection.

Peptic ulcer, or ulcer of the stomach and duodenum, is an inflammatory disease localized in the digestive tract. As its name suggests, it can touch the stomach (gastric ulcer) or the duodenum (duodenal ulcer). Beyond the pain, the ulcer can lead to complications if it is not taken care of and treated quickly.

According to the French National Society of Gastro-Enterology, each year in France, 90,000 cases of peptic ulcer are diagnosed, including 20,000 at the stage of complications.

Definition, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, here is all the information you need to know about peptic ulcer disease.

Definition: what is a peptic ulcer?

Peptic ulcer disease is a deep wound which forms in the inner wall of the digestive tract. In fact, to aid in the digestion of food, cells in the stomach make a very sour juice. And so that this substance does not attack the digestive mucous membranes, other cells are responsible for producing protective mucus and bicarbonate. In the case of an ulcer, this process is broken and the walls are affected.

The digestive tract can then be inflamed in two different places:

  • When the inflammation is located in the stomach, it is a gastric ulcer ;
  • When located in the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine, it is a duodenal ulcer. This is 10 times more common than gastric ulcer.

Whether localized in the stomach or duodenum, the disease becomes chronic and evolves in flare-ups. It can also lead to serious complicationssuch as perforation, gastrointestinal bleeding or stenosis. In general, according to estimates, about 10% of the population of industrialized countries is likely to suffer from ulcer disease. This is more common between 50 and 70 years old.

Symptoms of a peptic ulcer

The ulcer appears gradually, over a few weeks. If it is sometimes asymptomaticit is mainly characterized by:

  • A pain in the upper abdomenwhich looks like a cramp, a burning sensation or a very pronounced feeling of hunger;
  • In the case of a gastric ulcer, the pain worsened by eating or drinking ;
  • Conversely, in the case of a duodenal ulcer, the pain calms down at mealtimesto increase again one to three hours later, once the stomach is empty;
  • The feeling of being quickly satiated ;
  • Of the difficulty digestingof the bloating and belching.

The pain comes and goes, in the form of flare-ups that can last a few weeks. Nausea, vomiting, blood in the stool, fatigue or weight loss are clinical signs of worsening.

Causes and factors of a peptic ulcer

The appearance of an ulcer is always linked to an imbalance at the gastric level. But several factors can increase the risk:

  • A bacterial infection Helicobacter pylori (H.Pylori). This microorganism is thought to be the cause of 60 to 80% of gastric ulcers and 80 to 85% of duodenal ulcers. Thanks to its resistance to the acidity of the digestive tract, it invades the layer of mucus which protects the stomach and the small intestine and disturbs its balance;
  • The taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (ibuprofen, paracetamol, aspirin). This is the second most common cause of ulcer. The association between infection with H.Pylori. Pylori and taking these drugs increases the risk of developing the disease by almost 60 times;
  • A excessive production of acid by the stomach related to smoking, alcohol, stress or genetic predispositions.

Diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease

If an ulcer is suspected, the doctor performs an examination of the abdomen to locate the pain. The diagnosis is confirmed by performing a endoscopyof a abdominal x-ray or a gastroscopy. If there is a lesion, it appears in the form of a crater dug in the gastric or intestinal wall.

If it is in the stomach, a tissue sample is taken to rule out the slight possibility of stomach cancer. On the contrary, a lesion in the duodenal is almost always benign.

Treatment: how to treat a peptic ulcer?

It is rare for this pathology to heal spontaneously and permanently on its own. If left untreated, there is a high chance that the ulcer reappears in the following year. Its treatment is primarily medical, but can also be surgical. Set up by a gastroenterologist, it consists of heal the lesion and prevent recurrences. He must be accompanied by a lifestyle change that cause irritation (stop smoking, alcohol, etc.).

Ulcer medical treatment

Of the anti-secretory are prescribed for a month to reduce acid secretions in the digestive tract. In the case of an infection with H.Pyloriof the antibiotics are associated with them for a week. Once the treatment is complete, a urea breath test is performed to check if the bacteria has been eradicated. An endoscopy can again be performed, especially in the case of a stomach ulcer or a positive urea breath test.

Surgical treatment of the ulcer

If indicated in case of complications (haemorrhage, complete perforation of the digestive wall, gastrointestinal obstruction refractory to medication), it may be decided in the absence of healing. The surgical intervention therefore varies according to the patient, from simple suturing in the event of rupture of the ulcer to the removal of part of the stomach to reduce the secretion of hydrochloric acid, for example.

Peptic ulcer: what foods to eat?

Opt for a specific diet when you suffer from an ulcer can reduce the pain associated with it, reduce the risk of recurrence and restore digestive comfort. For this, it is recommended:

  • Avoid foods (spicy dishes, citrus fruits, cold cuts) and drinks (coffee, alcohol, sodas) can irritate the stomach. Everything depends on individual sensibility;
  • To increase consumption of protective soluble fiber (oats, legumes, flax seeds, oranges, apples, carrots);
  • To consume food rich in vitamin A (liver, carrots, sweet potato, cruciferous vegetables, broccoli, strawberry);
  • Of split your diet in several small meals, which we take the time to eat.

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