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Peptic ulcers are sores or injuries on the inside layer of the stomach or duodenum. These ulcers are caused when the stomach acids penetrate the stomach or intestines. One common cause of peptic ulcers is the frequent use of non-steroid and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are often used to care for headaches, arthritis, menstrual pain, cramping, muscle soreness, and fever. Some examples of NSAIDs are Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), Naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and Indomethacin (indocin). NSAIDs block the enzyme cyclooxygenase, which is also known as COX-1 and COX-2, (these enzymes produce prostaglandins which promote inflammation, pain and fever.)
By inhibiting the body’s production of prostaglandins, NSAIDs reduce inflammation. However, some prostaglandins are necessary to protect the stomach from the effects of stomach acids, as well as play a function in conserving the natural healthy stomach lining. These protective prostaglandins are produced by the enzyme COX-1. By blocking the enzyme COX-1 and disrupting the manufacture of prostaglandin in the stomach, NSAIDs can produce ulcers and bleeding. The enzyme COX-1 regulates the production of mucus in the digestive tract which protects the stomach from harsh acids, and digestives chemicals sometimes considered to be as strong as battery acids.
The most common symptom of peptic ulcers is a burning sore in the stomach between your breastbone and your lower belly. In my personal experience, it is a type of pain that is often easily ignored because it is not too painful. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
Peptic ulcer disease can be diagnosed by a couple of different tests. These tests usually involve samples of blood, breath, or stool. An endoscopy may be the most reliable exam. This approach utilizes the placement of a small bendable tube into an individual’s mouth and through the stomach. The device has a camera connected to it that makes it easier for the doctor to identify the ulcer, and sense the existence of an infection.
The discontinuation of NSAIDs and the reduction of stomach acid are objectives of treatment. In addition, H2 blockers, such as ranitidine (Zantac), cimetidine (Tagamet), and famotidine (Pepcid), help to promote the healing process. There is a bacterium, known as H. Pylori, which typically assists antibiotics to decrease the acid level in the stomach. These medications usually heal ulcers if they have not grown significantly. Generally, antibiotic treatment is prescribed for less than two weeks. It is vital to take the medicine until it has been all used up. In addition, aspirin and ibuprofen should not be taken in combination with antibiotics.
Physicians usually suggest abstaining from caffeine, sodas, alcohol, and tobacco. After the antibiotics have removed the ulcer, there is usually only a ten percent chance that the ulcer will return. Surgery is typically not needed with an ulcer. However, it is sometimes necessary if an ulcer does not go away.
American Gastroenterological Association – Peptic Ulcers: