Digestive Health

A brief overview of duodenal ulcer

A brief overview of duodenal ulcer
The duodenum is identified as the first and shortest part of the small intestine. The main function of the duodenum is to receive partially digested food from the stomach before passing it right through the small intestine. Duodenal ulcer is a sore that develops in the lining of the duodenum mainly and is one of the leading causes of abdominal pain. It is also a type of peptic ulcer, commonly associated with abdomen problems. The stomach secretes strong digestive juices used to kill germs and help digest food. The duodenum and cells in the stomach combine to form a mucous barrier to protect the lining from these acidic juices.

The H.pylori infection is one of the common causes of duodenal ulcer, potentially leading to gastric cancer. Inflammation in the lining due to the H.pylori bacteria damages the barrier causing an ulcer to form. However, there are multiple triggers that can aggravate the condition. These include side effects of certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and other medical conditions. Stress, consumption of alcohol, and smoking can also trigger duodenal ulcer.

Here are the most common and noticeable symptoms of duodenal ulcer.

  • Intermittent pain in the abdomen
  • Problems associated with indigestion
  • Bloating even after a small meal
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling sick on multiple occasions

Some of the more severe symptoms of a developing ulcer include vomiting blood and passing blood through stools. Immediate medical attention is advisable to rule out conditions that exhibit similar symptoms.

Risk factors associated with duodenal ulcer
There are multiple risk factors associated with one’s lifestyle and habits that can aggravate the condition. Genetics can also contribute to the developing condition among other risk factors including old age, a history of gastric disorders, and the aftereffects of physical trauma.

Duodenal ulcer exhibits many symptoms that are similar to those associated with gallstones and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Therefore a proper diagnosis is necessary to eliminate the conditions and narrow down the cause of the ulcer. A series of X-rays are taken of the stomach, esophagus, and duodenum to identify the affected areas. An endoscopy can also be performed to spot the ulcers developing on the lining of the stomach. Since duodenal ulcers are a type of peptic ulcers, tests done to identify the damage caused to the lining of the stomach include an upper GI series or upper endoscopy. Blood tests, stool culture, and urea breath test are simultaneously done to identify if the h.Pylori infection has caused the ulcer.

Treatment of duodenal ulcer
A combination of medications can help manage the condition. They include:

  • Proton pump inhibitors administered orally to help reduce the amount of acid or additionally protect the lining of the stomach.
  • H2 receptor antagonists to treat and simultaneously block the ulcers from developing the future.
  • Protectants help coat the ulcers and help minimize the damage caused by the stomach acid.
  • Antacids to help neutralize the stomach acid and curb the growth of ulcer.

Note that ulcers must not be left unchecked as they can cause complications. A proper diagnosis and immediate medical attention is advisable as soon as the first symptoms start showing up.