Stomach and duodenal ulcers are the common name for ulcers in these organs. It is ailment in which there is a cyclical appearance of peptic ulcers – that is, a loss of the mucosa membrane with accompanying inflammatory infiltrates and local necrosis. Most often they are caused by imbalance between irritants – such as hydrochloric acid – and the protective (i.e.properly supplied with blood supply to the mucosa).
They are caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori – a bacterium that can withstand acid conditions perfectly, it is responsible for approximately 70% of gastric ulcer cases and 75–90% of duodenal ulcers. It has the ability to produce toxins that cause inflammation and damage to the cells of the mucosa.
As a result, the body begins to increase the secretion of the hormone – gastrin – which further increases secretion of hydrochloric acid leading to the formation of ulcers. Infection with bacteria occurs through the food tract. Ulcers can also arise from widespread and cyclical use of painkillers, i.e. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and also as a result of smoking. Genetic factors also play an important role.
Pain is one of the main symptoms of gastric and duodenal ulcer disease, on an empty stomach – most often at night or in the early morning (called hunger pains), or around 1-3 hours after eating. They are experienced by patients as epigastric discomfort with feeling of burning. Sometimes there is also a feeling of distraction and an unpleasant “overflow” after a meal – vomiting may also appear. For duodenal ulcers, the pain usually subsides with ingestion of a small portions. It also happens, however, that the sick person does not feel any discomfort.
The main method of treating patients infected with Helicobacter pylori is antibiotic therapy as well as the use of drugs that reduce gastric acid secretion. Usually the therapy lasts around 10-14 days – all medications should be used in accordance with the recommendations of the gastroenterologist. In case of complications, surgical treatment may be necessary.