Peptic ulcer - Burning Stomach

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

A break in the membrane of an organ in the body that hinders the functions of the organ is known as ulcer. Various forms of ulcers exist, they include: peptic ulcer, mouth ulcer, diabetic foot ulcer and genital ulcer. Peptic ulcer (stomach ulcer) is an open sore that develop on the lining of the stomach, lower oesophagus or first part of the small intestine. Peptic ulcer can occur as duodenal, oesophageal or gastric ulcer.
The digestive tract is lined with a mucous layer that protects it against acid. Peptic ulcer occurs when the acid in the digestive tract eats away the inner surface of the oesophagus, stomach or small intestine.
Though several factors such as diet, stress and lifestyle were thought to cause peptic ulcer, it has been observed that the bacteria – Helicobacter pylori, is a common cause. Also, long term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as aspirin, ibuprofen etc, potassium supplements and other drugs used to treat osteoporosis have also been implicated.
Symptoms are rare but the most common symptom is a burning abdominal pain which is aggravated by stomach acid coming in contact with the ulcerated area. The pain worsens at night and when stomach is empty. Severe symptoms include unexplained weight loss, blood in stool, nausea and vomiting. Complications that may arise from an untreated peptic ulcer is the formation of a scar tissue that may block the passage of food to the digestive tract, internal bleeding and infection due to perforation of the stomach wall.
Factors that may increase the likelihood of developing peptic ulcer include the use of tobacco, NSAID, serious illnesses and radiation treatment. Therefore, caution in the use of drugs that exposes one to peptic ulcers and a good hygiene that protects one from being infected with Helicobacter pylori are good ways to prevent peptic ulcer.
In treating ulcer, the underlying cause should be known. Treatments include the use of antibiotics, antacids or mucosal protective agents, lifestyle changes, and surgery. Peptic ulcers that refuse to heal are known as refractive ulcers. They may occur due to resistance of the bacteria to the antibiotics or not taking treatment as prescribed.



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