Ulcer – Definition
Inflammatory lesion open due to the corrosive action of gastric juices, located on the inner surface of the stomach (gastric ulcer) or duodenum (duodenal ulcer). The gastric juice secreted by the stomach is highly acidic and corrosive, when the protective factors of gastric and duodenal mucosa are not due to a chronic inflammation or action of irritants, the attack of digestive enzymes cause the lesion referred to as peptic ulcers.
Ulcer – Causes
Among the factors that can lead to the development of peptic ulcer are chronic gastritis, the overproduction of gastric acid, smoking, stress, and the action of drugs (especially aspirin, NSAIDs and corticosteroids ). However, the recent discovery of the prominent role played in the formation of ulcer by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori has revolutionized many opinions on the genesis of the disease and the therapy itself.
Ulcer – Symptoms
The most common symptom of peptic ulcer is pain, which is located below the sternum. In duodenal ulcer pain usually occur in the interval between meals when the stomach is empty and is relieved by food ingestion. Gastric ulcer pain induces a less characteristic, which in some cases is rather exacerbated by eating. There may be nausea and vomiting. The ulcer symptoms tend to occur for periods lasting from one to two months, especially in spring and autumn.
Ulcer – Diagnosis
The diagnosis is suspected based on symptoms and confirmed by tests such as endoscopy (which allows the observation of the inner surface of the stomach and, if necessary, performing a biopsy ) and the X-ray contrast media (meal barium). Helicobacter infection can be diagnosed by detection of specific antibodies in the blood or the search for bacteria in ulcerative lesion biopsy.
Ulcer – Treatment
Peptic ulcer therapy is based on substances that reduce the secretion of stomach acid: antacids (such as aluminum hydroxide), histamine H2-receptor blockers (cimetidine, ranitidine) and proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole and derivatives). In particular the introduction of these drugs, which can usually resolve with treatment of the disease a few weeks, has revolutionized the treatment of peptic ulcer disease, making it very rare recourse to surgery. In patients positive for H. pylori infection is associated with antibiotic therapy.
Ulcer – Treatment alternatives
There are many herbal and homeopathic remedies for the treatment of peptic ulcers. Since the disease, left untreated, serious complications can still ask, they should be taken under medical supervision.
Ulcer – Power
It is useful to have meals at regular times: skipping meals and eating a disorderly may worsen symptoms. Commonly they are not recommended as pepper, coffee, tea and cocoa, as well as fruit juices and spicy or fatty foods. Avoid hard liquor.