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Peptic Ulcers

Peptic Ulcers Quick Overview

  • A peptic ulcer is an open sore in the upper digestive tract. There are two types of peptic ulcers, a gastric ulcer, which forms in the lining of the stomach, and a duodenal ulcer, which forms in the upper part of the small intestine.
  • Causes of peptic ulcers include
  • the bacterium named Helicobacter pylori (H pylori),
  • aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
  • Some people may have no symptoms of an ulcer, but common symptoms include
  • Treatment of a peptic ulcer depends on the cause. Treatments include lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, aspirin, and NSAIDs; acid-blocking medications; medications that protect the lining of the stomach and duodenum; and "triple-therapy" or "dual-therapy" regimens for ulcers caused by H pylori.
  •  Surgery may be performed in some cases that do not respond to medical treatment.
  • The prognosis for peptic ulcers is generally good, and most individuals will improve with the appropriate medicine.
  • Complications of peptic ulcers include bleeding, perforation, and obstruction.

What is a peptic ulcer?

In the digestive system, an ulcer is an area of open sores where tissue has been destroyed by the gastric juices and stomach acid. Peptic ulcer disease is a general term for ulcers that occur in the lining of the stomach or of the duodenum (upper part of the small intestine).

  • A peptic ulcer is an erosion or sore in the wall of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • The mucous membrane lining the digestive tract erodes and causes a gradual breakdown of tissue.
  • This breakdown causes a gnawing or burning pain in the upper middle part of the belly (abdomen).
  • Although most peptic ulcers are small, they can cause a considerable amount of discomfort.

Peptic ulcers are a very common condition in the United States and throughout the world.

  • In the United States, about 10% of the population will develop a duodenal ulcer at some point in their lives.
  • Peptic ulcer disease affects about 4.6 million people annually.
  • The occurrence of peptic ulcer disease is similar in men and women. Approximately 11%-14% of men and 8%-11% of women will develop peptic ulcer disease in their lifetime.
  • The mortality rate of peptic ulcer disease is approximately one death per 10,000 cases. The mortality rate due to ulcer hemorrhage is approximately 5%.

Stomach ulcers can occur at any age, although they are rare in children and teenagers.

The good news is that we have learned a lot about stomach ulcers in the past 20 years and effective therapies are now available.

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Peptic Ulcers - Symptoms

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Peptic Ulcer Disease »

Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is a common disorder that affects millions of individuals in the United States each year.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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