Peptic ulcer disease: Symptoms, risk factors, clinical diagnosis, and treatment

Overview:

This is a common observation around the world that the prevalence of peptic ulcer disease due to H. pylori infection, which is the predominant cause, is increasing and is challenging due to increased microbial resistance, resulting in serious health shortcomings.

In this increasingly challenging environment, we can overcome this disease if we diagnose its symptoms at early stages and follow preventive measures, therapies & proper medications.

What is peptic ulcer disease?

Peptic ulcer disease is a bacterial infection affecting the stomach and proximal duodenum, characterized by mucosal breakage that extends into the submucosa due to acidic peptic injury to the digestive tract. Peptic ulcers are typically found in the stomach, the digestive tract, the proximal duodenum, Meckel’s diverticulum, and the esophagus.

In the quarter of the 20th century, the perception of the causes of peptic ulcer disease changed traditional thought, i.e., food, stress, and hypersecretory acidic medium. Later on, the community sample research showed that the predominant causes of peptic ulcer disease are H.pylori (Helicobacter pylori infection) and the extensive use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs).

It has been estimated that the prevalence rate of peptic ulcer illnesses is between 5-10%, whereas the incidence rate is between 0.1–0.3% every year. However, the prevalence and incidence of peptic ulcers are currently likely to be lower than those estimates globally. These decreases could be attributed to the introduction of new therapies as well as the known treatment of  H.pylori infection and NSAIDs.

What are the early warning symptoms of peptic ulcer disease?

The sooner you clinically diagnose peptic ulcer symptoms, the better it is for your health. Duodenal ulcer patients have symptoms of hunger and nocturnal pain.

Gastric ulcer patients have the symptoms of epigastric discomfort, post-prandial abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss.

Risk Factors :

The most common risk factors for gastric (stomach) and duodenal ulcers include H.pylori infection and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or aspirin. But peptic ulcer disease develops in just a small percentage of persons infected with H. pylori or who use NSAIDs or aspirin, suggesting that an individual’s sensitivity to bacterial virulence and medication toxicity is necessary for the initiation of mucosal injury.

How long does it take for a peptic ulcer to heal? Can they be cured?

A peptic ulcer can be cured with appropriate medications and therapies if it is clinically diagnosed early. After a diagnosis of H. pylori infection, antisecretory therapy, particularly with a proton pump inhibitor and prescribed medicines by a doctor, should be administered for a period of four weeks to eradicate the disease completely.

Endoscopy should be recommended for patients above 65 or with alarm symptoms that indicate complications. Patients who are currently taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications should stop taking them. H. pylori test-and-treat is recommended for younger patients who have no warning symptoms.

Surgical treatment may be necessary if complications arise or the ulcer does not respond to therapy. The most common reason for requiring surgical treatment is bleeding.

The Bottom Line:

The bottom line is this if we diagnose peptic ulcer symptoms such as epigastric discomfort, post-prandial abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, hunger, and nocturnal pain at early stages, and follow preventive measures, therapies & proper medications, then we can overcome this health concern issue. I would like to add the last point for completely eradicating this disease antisecretory therapy, particularly with a proton pump inhibitor and prescribed medicines by a doctor, should be administered for four weeks.

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