Visit and Join the WeHeal Peptic Ulcer Community
Peptic ulcer disease (PUD), also known as a peptic ulcer or stomach ulcer, is a break in the lining of the stomach, first part of the small intestine, or occasionally the lower esophagus. An ulcer in the stomach is known as a gastric ulcer while that in the first part of the intestines is known as a duodenal ulcer. The most common symptoms are waking at night with upper abdominal pain or upper abdominal pain that improves with eating. The pain is often described as a burning or dull ache. Other symptoms include belching, vomiting, weight loss, or poor appetite. About a third of older people have no symptoms. Complications may include bleeding, perforation, and blockage of the stomach. Bleeding occurs in as many as 15% of people.
Common causes include the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Other less common causes include tobacco smoking, stress due to serious illness, Behcet disease, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, Crohn disease and liver cirrhosis, among others. Older people are more sensitive to the ulcer causing effects of NSAIDs. The diagnosis is typically suspected due to the presenting symptoms with confirmation by either endoscopy or barium swallow. H. pylori can be diagnosed by testing the blood for antibodies, a urea breath test, testing the stool for signs of the bacteria, or a biopsy of the stomach. Other conditions that produce similar symptoms include stomach cancer, coronary heart disease, and inflammation of the stomach lining or gallbladder.
Diet does not play an important role in either causing or preventing ulcers. Treatment includes stopping smoking, stopping NSAIDs, stopping alcohol, and medications to decrease stomach acid. The medication used to decrease acid is usually either a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) or an H2 blocker with four weeks of treatment initially recommended. Ulcers due to H. pylori are treated with a combination of medications such as amoxicillin, clarithromycin, and a PPI. Antibiotic resistance is increasing and thus treatment may not always be effective. Bleeding ulcers may be treated by endoscopy, with open surgery typically only used in cases in which it is not successful.
Peptic ulcers are present in around 4% of the population. About 10% of people develop a peptic ulcer at some point in their life. They resulted in 301,000 deaths in 2013 down from 327,000 deaths in 1990. The first description of a perforated peptic ulcer was in 1670 in Princess Henrietta of England. H. pylori was first identified as causing peptic ulcers by Barry Marshall and Robin Warren in the late 20th century, a discovery for which they received the Nobel Prize in 2005.
WeHeal is very grateful to our valued sources of information which include Wikipedia, WebMD, ClinicalTrials.gov, Cancer.gov, Infoplease, and the US CDC (Center for Disease Control).