Peptic ulcers, common in people of all ages, are sores that develop in the stomach and upper small intestine's lining. This condition, known as peptic ulcer disease, is a prevalent gastrointestinal issue.

Primary Causes of Peptic Ulcers

The leading cause of these ulcers is the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, commonly found in the digestive tract. This bacterium is known to cause sores in the stomach or upper small intestine lining. It's believed that H. pylori spreads through contaminated water or food.

Another significant cause is the frequent or long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and ibuprofen. These medications can increase the risk of developing peptic ulcers.

Identifying Symptoms of Peptic Ulcer Disease

The most noticeable symptom is a burning stomach pain, typically felt between the breastbone and belly button, especially on an empty stomach. The pain might last a few minutes to several hours and can even disrupt sleep. Less common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and possibly blood in the stool. Sometimes, bleeding from an ulcer may be the sole symptom, potentially leading to anaemia and weakness.

When to Seek Medical Help?

Treatment for peptic ulcers varies depending on the cause. If you have been diagnosed with an H. pylori infection, your doctor will prescribe a treatment plan to eliminate the infection. To effectively treat this infection, it is necessary to use a combination of different medications simultaneously, since it is resistant to many drugs. Typically, two to three types of medication must be taken for one to two weeks, including medication for stomach disorders and one to two types of antibiotics. This treatment has a success rate of 80% to 90% in eliminating the H. pylori bacteria. Depending on the case, the patient may need to continue taking medication for stomach disorders for four to eight weeks.

If you have been diagnosed with ulcers caused by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the most effective treatment is to discontinue the use of NSAIDs and take an acid-suppressing drug as prescribed.

In cases where ulcers bleed or perforate, surgery may be necessary.

Preventing Peptic Ulcer Disease

To prevent H. pylori infection, maintain good hygiene, consume well-prepared food, and drink clean water. If long-term NSAID use is necessary, consult with a doctor or pharmacist to mitigate the risk of ulcers. Always seek medical advice before starting NSAIDs.