What is Peptic Ulcer Disease and How to Prevent It

Posted By Author on April 26, 2023

Peptic ulcers are ulcers that form in the digestive tract caused by acid erosion in the lining of your GI tract. Peptic ulcer disease can be found in the esophagus, stomach, or the upper part of the small intestines. 

Here at Charleston GI, we know making sense of what’s going on in your gut can leave you scratching your head. When it comes to symptoms of peptic ulcer disease, we’ll help you make sense of what you’re feeling, figure out the cause of your ulcer, and determine your best course of treatment so you can get back to feeling your best.

Read on to learn more!

Causes and Symptoms of Peptic Ulcer Disease   

There are three different types of ulcers: gastric ulcers that develop in the stomach, esophageal ulcers that develop in the esophagus, and duodenal ulcers that develop in the upper part of the small intestines. 

Causes of peptic ulcers can include:

  • H. pylori bacteria can cause infection and inflammation in the stomach
  • Frequent NSAID use (aspirin, ibuprofen)
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stomach cancer

The most common symptom people exhibit with a peptic ulcer is a burning abdominal pain that can occur anywhere between your bellybutton and your chest. While many people have symptoms with peptic ulcers, some people may not experience any symptoms. You may experience other symptoms, such as:

  • Feeling full quickly
  • Stomach pain following a meal
  • Burping or feeling bloated after a meal
  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in your stools

How is Peptic Ulcer Disease Diagnosed and Treated?      

If you’re having symptoms of peptic ulcer disease, call your doctor to schedule an appointment and get a referral to a GI doctor, like Charleston GI. Your GI doctor will discuss your symptoms with you, go over your family and medical history, and perform a physical exam.

Next, your doctor will most likely order diagnostic tests to take a deeper look into your symptoms. These tests can include a stool, blood, or breath test for H. pylori detection, an endoscopy to examine your upper digestive tract, or a barium swallow to take x-rays of your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine.

If your doctor finds that H. pylori is present, you’ll be given antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria in your gut. These antibiotics are typically prescribed for two weeks and are often taken with additional medications to help lower stomach acid.

Other treatments to help with acid production and encourage healing may include: 

  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to block acid production 
  • Acid blockers to reduce acid production
  • Antacids to neutralize stomach acid
  • Medication to protect the lining of your digestive tract      

Types of Prevention   

To prevent an ulcer, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to help your gut in the long run.

  • Quit smoking: Nicotine is known to cause an increase of acid production which can aggravate an ulcer and discourage its healing.
  • Lower alcohol use: Heavy alcohol use can be irritating to the stomach lining and cause further damage over time.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking water throughout the day is a great way to manage stomach acid production.
  • Lower NSAID use: Medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can damage the mucus layer in the digestive tract which can lead to ulcers.
  • Eat a variety of fruits and veggies: Whole fruits and vegetables fortify your digestive tract and help heal ulcers, thanks to their wide variety of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and flavonoids. 
  • Get probiotics: Probiotics help promote healthy bacteria in the gut and can be found in foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, and kefir. Your doctor may also suggest a probiotic supplement. 
  • Monitor your mental health: Stress and anxiety can be linked to the development of peptic ulcers.

Dealing with Peptic Ulcer Disease? Contact Charleston GI Today!

Suffering from peptic ulcer disease can be irritating not only to your gut, but also your quality of life. 

Here at Charleston GI, our  board-certified gastroenterologists are experienced in treating a wide variety of conditions, and we can help you with all the information you need to live comfortably if you suffer from peptic ulcer disease. 

We have four convenient Charleston area locations to choose from, in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, and Carnes Crossroads.

Charleston GI doctors are ready 5 days a week to offer you medical relief. There’s no referral needed, so schedule your appointment today, with Charleston GI! 

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