Peptic Ulcer Disease


Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD)

PUD is the presence of ulcers (sores) in the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and/or small intestine.

The stomach is naturally a very acidic environment so as to best break down food. In order to protect itself from the very acid it creates, the body produces a mucous layer around the digestive tract. However, if too much acid is present, this protective mucous layer can become weakened, allowing acid to corrode the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine. The acid corrosion in the lining of the digestive tract is known as a peptic ulcer, which is an open sore that can sometimes bleed.

What Causes Peptic Ulcers?

There are two main causes of peptic ulcers: H. pylori and medications. Occasionally, people produce an excessive amount of acid in their stomachs and are therefore at a naturally higher risk of developing peptic ulcers.

What are the Symptoms of PUD?

The most common symptom of PUD is burning upper abdominal pain (although some patients experience no pain at all). Pain is often intermittent and relieved temporarily by antacids.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Bright red or black blood in vomit or stool 
  • Pylori is a bacteria that infects the stomach and is one of the most common infections worldwide. This bacterium was recently found to be the root cause of the majority of ulcers. H. pylori live in the mucosal lining that protects the digestive tract and can cause inflammation that leads to the formation of ulcers.

NSAIDs other Medications:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and certain other medications can damage the mucous layer of the stomach, enabling the formation of ulcers. NSAIDs are available in many forms over-the-counter (such as Aleve, Aspirin, and Ibuprofen), often used for pain relief, and prescription (such as Diclofenac and Mobic), often used for arthritis treatment. 

How is a Diagnosis of PUD Made?

The first step in the diagnosis of PUD is full medical history, including present symptoms. At this point, the diagnosis of peptic ulcers may be suspected, but it must be confirmed either an endoscopy or barium x-ray of the stomach.

How is PUD Treated?

The treatment of PUD depends in part on the cause. If PUD is caused by H. pylori, treatment of the infection with antibiotics is necessary. If PUD is caused by medication, treatment requires avoidance of that medication. Acid-suppressing medication is extremely effective in relieving symptoms and allowing ulcers to heal. Lifestyle medication can help the ulcer healing process, including avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes.

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