Indy Gastro | Colonoscopy, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, endoscopy

What is an Ulcer and How to Manage?

dr-drakeBy Dr. Luke Drake

Ulcer is a word we’ve all heard and something we fear but actually may not know much about. Interestingly, one in every 75 people in the U.S. is affected by ulcers - and to be exact, peptic ulcers. The good news, the vast majority of ulcers is easily managed.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive at Indy Gastro about ulcers.

What is a peptic ulcer?

A peptic ulcer is a sore that can form on the lining of the stomach or the duodenum -- the first part of the small intestine.

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What are the symptoms of peptic ulcers?

Peptic ulcer disease is a condition that affects over 4 million people each year in the United States. The signs and symptoms of an ulcer vary and overlap with those of other diseases, and some ulcers have no symptoms at all. Fortunately, most patients with ulcers can be treated successfully and avoid long-term problems. Some of the most common symptoms reported include pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, bloating, nausea and/or vomiting, blood in the stool or an early sense of fullness with eating.

What causes Ulcers?

The two most common causes of peptic ulcers are bacteria helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) amongst others. Smoking may also influence the development of ulcers but contrary to popular belief, psychological “stress,” and dietary factors have not been proven to play a role.

How are Ulcers Diagnosed and Treated?

If you have signs or symptoms of a peptic ulcer, the preferred test is an upper endoscopy or EGD. During this test, a small flexible tube with a light and a HD camera attached is passed through the mouth and into the stomach to carefully examine the lining of the stomach and the duodenum - the first part or small intestine. In addition, there are also blood tests, breath tests and stool tests available to check for the presence of H. pylori.

Treatment for ulcers typically depends on the cause of the ulcer. Generally speaking, for H. pylori-induced ulcers, treatment will include a combination of three different medications to be taken over the course of 10 to 14 days. Treatment for the NSAID-induced ulcers include medication that will help to reduce the acid in the stomach for long periods of time in addition to stopping the use of offending medications (i.e. NSAIDS and cigarettes).

If, after reading the information above, you’re still concerned that you may have a peptic ulcer, click the Contact Us button below to schedule a visit or to learn more about IGH’s ulcer treatments.

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