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Peptic Ulcer Disease

NSAIDs can penetrate the lining of the stomach and release substances that damage cells. NSAIDs also block natural chemicals called prostaglandins that can help to protect and repair those cells. People more at risk of ulcers caused by NSAIDs include those who: are seniors have a history of a peptic ulcer are also taking glucocorticoids (e.g., prednisone, dexamethasone) are taking high doses of NSAIDs or ASA have several medical conditions are taking more than one NSAID or ASA Excessive alcohol use can put people at higher risk for PUD, but it isn't a true cause. Symptoms and Complications of Peptic Ulcer Disease The most common symptom of peptic ulcers (both duodenal and gastric) is a gnawing or burning pain in the abdomen between the breastbone and the navel, sometimes passed off as "heartburn." An ulcer can also feel like a dull ache or strong hunger pangs. Yet some people, especially the elderly, may not feel any pain at all from an ulcer. Ulcer pain can come or go and can be aggravated by eating or an empty stomach. Ulcers can also cause belching and bloating. The most common complication of stomach and duodenal ulcers is bleeding. Although the blood loss is usually too slow to be noticed, it might be enough to make you tired, pale, and weak. If bleeding from the peptic ulcer is heavier, blood may show up in the stool or vomit. Stools that have blood in them may look tarry, black, or red.

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Acute Peptic Ulcer Disease

There are various causes of peptic ulcers and once diagnosis is established, it is important to identify the cause when possible in order to optimize treatment. Epidemiology Peptic ulcers are thought to affect about 10 percent of the population. According to an article in The Lancet, the disease has been an important cause of death and complications until the last decades of the 20th century. The fall in the death and complication rates is largely attributed to the discovery of new effective medications and a bacteria that contributes to the development of peptic ulcers. Causes According to the National Institutes of Health the most frequent cause of peptic ulcer is a bacterial known as Helicobacter pylori. It is unclear how the bacteria is transmitted, but it may stem from mouth to mouth transmission as in kissing or from unclean food or water. The majority of the people with H. pylori do not get ulcers, however. The next most frequent cause of peptic ulcers is the use of medications known as NSAIDs, which includes such drugs as aspirin and ibuprofen. These drugs degrade the protective barrier of the stomach so it is more exposed to stomach acid. Other causes are more rare and include radiation treatment, excessive alcohol or tobacco, being on a ventilator in an intensive care unit, and Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome, in which a pancreatic tumor signals the stomach to make too much acid.

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