Nowadays, peptic ulcer affects more than 10% of the Americans. It is mostly caused by a bacterium (H. Pylori) and by inadequate use of medication. Peptic ulcer causes an injury upon the stomach or duodenum lining, known as gastric ulcers or duodenum ulcers.
Because of this erosion, abdominal pain and burning might occur during the night, when the stomach is empty, or two-three hours after eating. Also, nausea, vomiting, belching and indigestion might occur. These are the general symptoms of a peptic ulcer.
If you vomit blood, or see that your stool is bloody or black, call for a doctor immediately, because a complication of the peptic ulcer might have occurred. Also, an increased abdominal pain is urgency.
Peptic ulcer occurs when inside your stomach and duodenum increased levels of acid are produced. This acid injures the line of stomach and duodenum and so ulcer appears.
The level of acid inside the stomach increases because some factors interfere within its production. For example, following a treatment with NSAIDs for a long time could increase the level of produced acid inside your stomach. To prevent ulcer from occurring your current doctor will prescribe some antacids, inhibitors of the proton pump (Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, and Pantoprazole), and H2-Receptor antagonists (Famotidine, Cimetidine, Nizatidine, and Ranitidine).
Another factor that leads to ulcer is a bacterium (H. Pylori). This bacterium weakens the natural barrier that protects the lining of your stomach against the acid's action. A lot of people possess this bacterium inside their stomach but not all of them develop ulcer. This is quite an interesting thing for scientists and is still studied.
People who suffer of Zollinger - Ellison Syndrome might develop ulcer because they have tumors in the pancreas that produce a hormone called gastrin, which increases the acid production in the stomach.
Alcohol, smoking, intensive stress, radiation therapy and other direct physical injuries can also lead to an ulcer. Ulcer has even a genetic predisposition.
People who have a weakened immune system and live in unsanitary conditions are exposed to H. Pylori.
In order to diagnose the ulcer, the doctor will ask you about your symptoms, will want to know for how long have you been having them, and will inquire about your lifestyle and diet.
After that the doctor will perform a physical exam to see if there are any signs of bleeding. A blood test is also required to see if you are anemic.
If the doctor suspects a peptic ulcer has occurred he will prescribe you antacid drugs.
But if you continue to feel abdominal pain and burnings even after treatment the doctor will have to perform other investigations like: endoscopy and an upper gastrointestinal test with barium.
These tests are quite accurate in detecting H. Pylori, the bacterium which could have caused your peptic ulcer. In this case antibiotic drugs are recommended, alongside with antacid medication.