Ulcer of the stomach (or gastroduodenal): causes, symptoms and treatments
What can cause an ulcer?
Many causes can be advanced to explain the occurrence of a peptic ulcer, even if the vast majority of them are induced by inflammation of the lining of the stomach or duodenum because of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Indeed, this germ, resistant to acid attacks, proliferates in the digestive tract and alters the normal mechanism that protects from acidity. Other possible causes of this type of ulcer include:
- taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
- gastric hyperacidity that may be due to smoking, alcohol consumption, stress, hereditary predispositions ...,
- a digestive, renal, cardiovascular, hepatic or pancreatic pathology,
- an ulcerated stomach cancer.
What are the symptoms ?
Although it may be asymptomatic for a long time, peptic ulcer usually manifests as persistent abdominal pain close to a burning sensation. This pain is often aggravated during meals when it is a gastric ulcer while it will be more prominent after digestion in case of duodenal ulcer. In addition to this major clinical sign may also occur:
- of the bloating,
- a quick feeling of satiety,
- nausea and / or vomiting,
- weight loss,
- a tired abnormal,
- blood in the stool and / or vomiting.
How is the diagnosis made?
If, at the end of his clinical examination, the gastroenterologist doctor suspects an ulcer, he can confirm his diagnosis by means of a gastroscopy. Practiced under general or local anesthesia, this examination makes it possible to visualize the digestive tract by means of a flexible tube equipped with a micro-camera. In case of gastric ulcer, a tissue biopsy will be performed to rule out the diagnosis of stomach cancer. But in all cases, samples are taken to detect the possible presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
When the diagnosis is confirmed, the management of the ulcer must be rapid in order to relieve the patient and prevent its extension. Medical treatment is based on two therapeutic axes: the reduced acidity and elimination of infection. To reduce the production of stomach acid, the following drugs may be recommended:
- H2 antihistamines (Azantac®, Raniplex® ...),
- inhibitors of the proton pump (Inexium®, Mopral® ...),
- antacids (Gelox®, Maalox® ...)
When the ulcer is caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, a specific antibiotic treatment based on amoxicillin, clarithromycin or metronidazole is implemented.
How is it evolving?
In most cases, peptic ulcer heals in 4 to 8 weeks when the treatment is set up early and is effective. To increase the chances of a cure and to limit the risks of recurrence, certain hygienic-dietary precautions must be scrupulously observed: not to interrupt his treatment, not to self-medicate, to eat slowly, to eat easily digestible foods, stop smoking, remove alcoholic beverages ... It should be known that an ill-treated ulcer has a high probability of re-offending the following year.
Although rare, ulcer complications exist. They may take the form of a haemorrhage or a complete perforation of the digestive tract wall. A hospitalization is then essential to take care of these two cases which require an emergency surgical intervention which can even lead to the removal of a part of the stomach.
Read also :
⋙ Helicobacter pylori: 5 things to know about this bacterium responsible for ulcers
⋙ Stomach pain: I need to worry?
⋙ Hiatal hernia: how to recognize the symptoms of this digestive system disorder?