duodenal ulcer

duodenal ulcer

 When you have a duodenal ulcer, you may feel pain and burning in the abdomen. Treatment for duodenal ulcers often tends to be directed towards antacid medications that relieve ulcer symptoms. 

What is a duodenal ulcer?

Duodenal ulcers occur as a result of inflammation of the lining of the first part of the small intestine, known as the duodenum, resulting in unpleasant irritating symptoms.

There are many causes of duodenal ulcers, the most important of which is taking anti-inflammatory drugs in excessive doses for a long period of time without consulting a doctor or as a result of a bacterial infection that predisposes to ulcer formation.

Duodenal ulcer is one of the most common ulcers of the digestive system. There is another type known as gastric ulcer, which occurs when the inner membrane of the stomach area becomes inflamed, so the difference between gastric and duodenal ulcers is where the inflammation occurs.

Appropriate treatment of duodenal ulcer prevents the emergence of serious complications of the ulcer, such as life-threatening bleeding or perforation. There is no need to worry, as these complications are not common and are limited to severe cases that do not receive treatment. 

Fortunately, duodenal ulcers are healthy ulcers that carry a low possibility of carcinogenesis, unlike gastric ulcers, which tend to be more malignant. Read more about stomach cancer.

Duodenal ulcer symptoms

The most common symptom of a duodenal ulcer is burning abdominal pain, which may be so severe that the patient is awakened from sleep.

Some patients do not suffer from any clear symptoms, as the symptoms differ from one patient to another according to the severity of the inflammation and the degree of damage, we mention the most important Duodenal ulcer symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain, especially at night
  • Bloating or feeling full and burping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bloody defecation or vomiting blood if the ulcer has perforated or ruptured
Duodenal ulcer symptoms
Duodenal ulcer symptoms

Causes of duodenal ulcer

It was believed for a long time that the causes of duodenal ulcers are due to the psychological state of the patient, such as tension and excessive emotion, but these allegations have not been proven true.

It has become known to us at the present time that the secretions of the digestive system and gastric acid play a role in the formation of ulcers, because these secretions irritate the lining of the digestive system.

Studies have proven a link between duodenal ulcer and one the reasons next:

Helicobacter pylori 

This germ lives in the mucous layer covering the lining of the stomach and small intestine. These germs irritate and damage the mucus that protects the duodenum, which contributes to the development of ulcers.

These bacteria are present in most humans, but they often coexist naturally without any problems, transmitted from one person to another through direct contact or by eating food contaminated with it.

NSAIDs

The indiscriminate and chronic use of anti-inflammatories such as aspirin or pain relievers such as ibuprofen without a prescription leads to irritation of the mucous membrane that protects the intestine, which predisposes to the occurrence of duodenal ulcers, so these drugs should not be used excessively.

How is an ulcer diagnosed?

The specialist will listen to your medical history and ask several questions regarding your symptoms and the reason for seeking medical advice.

If an ulcer is suspected, the following examinations are requested:

Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

It is an endoscope connected to a video monitor that is inserted through the mouth so that the doctor can see the lining of the digestive system. The examiner looks for ulcers or inflammatory signs of a previous ulcer in the stomach and duodenum.

Duodenal ulcer pictures taken through endoscopy
Duodenal ulcer pictures taken through endoscopy

Laboratory examination for the detection of Helicobacter pylori

As we mentioned earlier, there is a proven relationship between this germ and duodenal ulcer, which can be investigated through a blood or stool sample or through a breath test that helps detect the germ.

Radiographs

X-rays of the digestive system with a radioactive barium swallow are useful in detecting ulcers of the stomach and duodenum, which appear abnormally on the image.

 Duodenal ulcer treatment

To treat a duodenal ulcer and get rid of its symptoms permanently, lifestyle modifications must be made, in addition to applying one of the following treatment methods:

Duodenitis medication

Drug treatment contributes greatly to the treatment of peptic ulcers. If the cause is due to H. pylori bacteria, the so-called triple therapy is used, which is the combination of two types of antibiotics with an antacid drug.

more Duodenal ulcer medication Common are:

antibacterial 

It is used as part of the treatment of ulcers that affect the digestive system due to bacterial infection, aiming to eliminate the germs that cause inflammation, and one of the most commonly used types of antibiotics is amoxicillin.

Antacids

These drugs inhibit the production of gastric acid to speed up the healing process of duodenal ulcer, because the peptic acid exacerbates the ulcer by irritating the intestinal membrane.

We have two main types of antacids: proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), the most famous of which is omeprazole, and H2 blockers, including cimetidine.

Medicines to prevent ulcers

Certain medications help protect and strengthen the lining of the digestive tract to prevent ulcers from forming. These are known as supporting agents, the most common being sucralfate and misoprostol.

Herbal treatment for duodenal ulcer

In fact, herbs cannot be completely relied upon in treating duodenal ulcers, but they may play a helpful role in managing inflammation by promoting digestive health.

Modern medicine has proven the effectiveness of herbs in treating many diseases, including gastric and duodenal ulcers. Among the herbs used in the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers are the following:

  • licoriceMedical research has proven the effectiveness of licorice in accelerating ulcer healing by inhibiting the growth of bacteria in the stomach.
  • HoneyResearch has indicated the role of honey in reducing the secretion of digestive acids, in addition to its role in alleviating the symptoms caused by ulcers.
  • chamomileChamomile flowers have an anti-inflammatory effect in addition to the possibility of using them in the treatment of stomach and intestinal spasms.
  • gingerGinger is one of the herbs commonly used in the management of gastrointestinal diseases, as it is used in the treatment of constipation And bloating in addition to its anti-inflammatory effect.
  • the GarlicIt is one of the herbs that also helps prevent inflammation through its antioxidant role. 

Duodenal ulcer complications 

Duodenal ulcer may cause many forms of complications if left untreated, and some of them may be life-threatening, such as severe bleeding and perforation of the ulcer.

The most common complications associated with duodenal ulcers are:

bleeding

Bleeding occurs as a result of damage to the blood vessels in the ulcer area, and the bleeding is either slowly causing anemia, or it is severe in the form of vomiting or bloody stool, and in this case it requires treatment and rapid intervention.

perforation

The ulcer may develop and erosion of the inner wall of the intestine, causing perforation of this wall. The perforation of the ulcer needs urgent emergency intervention in order to avoid the transmission of intestinal germs through this hole to the body’s viscera and causing serious infection.

blockage

Large ulcers obstruct the passage of food through the digestive tract, which leads to blockage of the digestive path with food and vomiting, as well as early satiety when eating.

Duodenal ulcer prevention

Gastrointestinal ulcers can be prevented by making some healthy lifestyle changes, including:

  • Avoid taking excessive amounts of anti-inflammatory drugs without consulting your doctor
  • Do not eat too much food that irritates your stomach, such as meals that are rich in spices and fats
  • Wash hands regularly and stay away from contaminated food to prevent bacterial infection
  • give up smoking and alcohol
  • a lot of fruits And vegetables rich in fiber
What does a duodenal ulcer patient eat?
What does a duodenal ulcer patient eat?

Sources:

  1. Healthdirect
  2. Johns hopkins
  3. Healthline

Common Questions

Duodenal ulcer treatment duration is usually 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the degree of response and the size of the ulcer.

Ulcer patients are advised to eat a lot of fiber-rich food, such as fruits, because fiber reduces acid secretions and relieves patients of the symptoms of abdominal pain and bloating.

It is preferable to avoid foods that increase stomach secretions such as: chocolate, coffee, spices and acidic foods such as tomatoes.

The main difference between them is the area of the ulcer formation. When the stomach wall is damaged, a stomach ulcer develops, and when the wall in the upper part of the intestine is damaged, a duodenal ulcer develops.

There is another difference with regard to the symptoms of the two ulcers. In the case of stomach ulcers, the symptoms increase in severity after eating, while they improve after food in the duodenal ulcer.

Duodenal infections by themselves do not cause shortness of breath Except In the event of ulcer perforation and blood vessel bleeding.

The ulcer usually heals within a period of weeks of treatment, but when the ulcer is left untreated, it can lead to serious, life-threatening complications such as bleeding and perforation.

With proper and complete treatment of ulcers, they heal completely within a period of weeks.

It depends on several factors, including the size of the ulcer and the degree of response to treatment. The ulcer heals on average after 6 weeks of treatment.

Of course, the duodenal ulcer is healthy and it is very rare for it to turn into cancer. There are a few cases of ulcers that have turned into malignancy, but a very small percentage.

There are cases of completely cured of the disease after receiving appropriate treatment for a specific period of time, it is expected that the ulcer will heal within weeks of treatment.

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