Peptic Ulcers in St. Louis, MO
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What is a peptic ulcer?
A common gastric concern, peptic ulcers are open sores or ulcerations located in the stomach (gastric ulcer) or upper small intestine (also known as a duodenal ulcer) that often result in discomfort, bleeding, and pain. The cells that line the stomach are surrounded by a layer of mucus that helps reduce the risk of stomach damage. When this protective component within the stomach or small bowel is compromised, then the stomach acid leads to erosion of the tissue that sits behind the protective wall.
While anyone can experience peptic ulcers, some may carry a higher risk if they have a family history of peptic ulcers or are 50 years or older. The GI providers at a Specialists in Gastroenterology location in your community offer specialized care for this type of medical condition. If you need treatment for peptic ulcers in St. Louis, MO, please reach out to one of our locations today to request a consultation.
What are the causes of peptic ulcers?
As mentioned above, a peptic ulcer occurs when the tissue in the stomach or small bowel is exposed to pepsin, which is also called stomach acid. The stomach acid then erodes the tissue within the organ. There are two causative factors, however, behind why the stomach's protective lining becomes eroded.
Helicobacter pylori, frequently referred to as H. pylori, is a type of bacteria that can enter your system in several ways. Once the bacteria enters your body, it can harm the layer of mucus lining the stomach. This causes openings in that protective lining and can result in ulcerations. If H. pylori is detected, a provider may recommend antibiotics to help destroy the destructive bacteria.
Specific pain relievers, for example, aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can block your body from producing a chemical that helps protect the inner walls of your small bowel and stomach.
Other variations of pain medications, for example, acetaminophen (Tylenol), do not lead to the formation of small intestine and stomach ulcers. This is among the reasons why physicians recommend utilizing pain relievers in controlled and small amounts.
Risk factors for peptic ulcers
Other risk factors for gastric or duodenal ulcers include:
- Tobacco use
- Regular use of NSAID pain relievers
- Consuming foods that are spicy or acidic
- Alcohol consumption
Our St. Louis, MO gastroenterologists can recognize the indications of peptic ulcers and help pinpoint what might be the cause of the GI condition.
What are the symptoms of peptic ulcers?
Since peptic ulcers are basically open sores in the small intestine or stomach, people often feel discomfort and a burning sensation in the abdomen when this condition occurs. Further signs and symptoms of peptic ulcers include:
- Heartburn and acid reflux
- Fatty food intolerance
- Blood in the stool
- Unwanted weight loss
- Appetite loss
If you are experiencing bloody stools, it is imperative that you contact your Specialists in Gastroenterology provider immediately. If you experience any combination of the symptoms listed above or use over-the-counter antacids that soothe your pain, but the pain returns, it may be time to be assessed by a specialist so you can get the medical treatment you require.
What treatments are available for peptic ulcers?
With proper care, peptic ulcers can be treated and can improve over time. Common treatments for peptic ulcers that our team may recommend for St. Louis, MO patients might include the following:
- Antibiotics to kill H. pylori
- Cytoprotective agents (medication to protect the lining of the stomach and small intestine)
- Endoscopy to cauterize bleeding arteries
- Decrease the use of certain pain medications
- Antacids to neutralize stomach acid
- Acid-reducing medication (H-2 blockers)
Specialized treatments for peptic ulcers
Our GI specialists provide peptic ulcer treatment to St. Louis, MO patients and aim to help you live your life without discomfort or pain. Get in touch with a Specialists in Gastroenterology location near you to discover your options for treatment and how we go above and beyond to help you.
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