Stomach Ulcers: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
Classically, the pain of stomach (gastric) ulcers is worsened with food whereas the pain of duodenal ulcers is relieved with food. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, vomiting as a result of obstruction of the gastric outlet, vomiting of blood (hematemesis) or black tarry stools (melena) from ulcer bleeding, and severe abdominal pain following perforation through the ulcer. Diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease is confirmed with upper endoscopy in which the ulcer is visualized with a camera down the esophagus. During this procedure, a biopsy can be taken of the ulcer, which can be analyzed for the presence of H. pylori. Other tests are also available for detection of H. pylori, including testing of urea in breath, antibodies, and fecal antigens.
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pylori. Although the mechanism by which H. pylori leads to ulcers is not fully understood, scientists believe the bacterium causes chronic inflammation of the stomach or duodenum, which, in turn, weakens the mucosa, allowing acid to cause a sore, or ulcer, in the lining. Once an individual has been infected with H. pylori, the infection continues indefinitely until it is eradicated with antibiotics. Scientists are not yet sure how H. pylori is spread, but it may be through contaminated food or water or person-to-person contact. In the United States, an estimated 30 percent of the population is colonized with H. pylori; 1 in 6 will develop ulcers. This section also discusses other contributors to ulcer formation . Other contributors to ulcer formation NSAIDs: Chronic use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, inhibits the body's production of prostaglandins, the powerful hormonelike chemicals that protect the stomach lining and are integral to the body's inflammatory process.
pylori is a common infection, and it is possible that the bacteria is spread between people through contact with infected stool, vomit or saliva. It also may be contracted from contaminated water or food. According to the Mayo Clinic, one in five young adults is actually infected with the bacteria. Still, for unknown reasons it does not result in ulcers in everyone. A study published in the journal PLoS Pathogens last fall indicates that some people may have a genetic advantage. In their report, the team of researchers from Australia and Sweden illustrated how shorter versions of a protein called MUC1, which sticks out of the stomach lining and binds with H. pylori preventing it from coming into contact, are less adept at blocking H. pylori.