Peptic ulcer is a small erosion in the gastrointestinal tract. The most common type is a duodenal ulcer. It occurs in the first 12 inches of small intestine beyond the stomach. Stomach ulcers are called gastric ulcers. An ulcer is not contagious or cancerous, and can affect all ages. Duodenal ulcers are almost always non cancerous. Stomach ulcers may become malignant.
Causes of Ulcer, Peptic
Peptic ulcer disease can be caused by using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Infections with Helicobacter pylori bacteria may produce ulcer disease. Occasionally, tumors can produce excessive acid secretion and lead to the development of ulcers. Stress and anxiety are less likely causes of these disorders.
Signs and Symptoms of Ulcer, Peptic
Peptic ulcer disease produces pain that is burning, boring or gnawing. It typically lasts 30 minutes to 3 hours. Frequently, the pain is interpreted as heartburn, indigestion or hunger. The pain from peptic ulcer disease usually occurs in the upper abdomen and occasionally below the breastbone. In some persons with peptic ulcer disease, the pain occurs immediately after eating, while in others, it may not occur until hours later. The pain may awaken you at night. It is not unusual for the pain to come and go, and weeks of intermittent pain may alternate with short pain-free periods. The pain may be relieved by drinking milk, eating, resting or taking antacids. Loss of appetite, loss of weight and recurrent vomiting may occur. Vomiting blood and black tarry stools may develop if bleeding occurs from the ulcer into the stomach or intestinal tract. If anemia develops, weakness, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath and exercise intolerance may develop.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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