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Duodenal ulcer

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Ulcer means an open sore or lesion that occurs in the mucous membranes or the skin.  When these ulcers occur in the duodenum, they are referred to as a duodenal ulcer. Similar types of ulcers can also occur in the stomach and esophagus as well.

Symptoms of duodenal ulcer

One might not know that they are suffering from ulcers in the duodenum as they are often asymptomatic. However, the typical symptom of peptic ulcer is burning pain around the navel that might rise to the chest or breastbone. It can flare upon an empty stomach or post meals. In some it may occur in the morning or at night as well. The pain could be acute and sporadic in nature.

Other symptoms associated with duodenal ulcers are:

Causes of duodenal ulcers

Factors that contribute to erosion or perforation in the duodenum are:

  • Infection of the protective lining of the duodenum with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • Heavy smoking introduces ulcers in the stomach and poses a threat to their healing process as well
  • Consumption of excessive caffeine beverages like coffee and tea and alcohol
  • Eating spicy gravies and oily food on a  regular basis
  • Overproduction of stomach acid due to an empty stomach by suppressing hunger, etc.
  • Side effect of regular consumption of pain killers (NSAIDs), potassium supplements and osteoporosis drugs
  • Physical stress, injuries like burns, inflammation in stomach, etc.

Complications of duodenal ulcers

If the ulcers fail to heal by neglecting the treatment suggested, then they might perforate and scar the duodenum and induce intestinal bleeding.

When to see a doctor?

You must see a doctor, if any, of the symptoms are bothering you way too often. Do not neglect abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Diagnosis of duodenal ulcer

Your doctor will observe the symptoms and figure out the possible cause behind the ulcers in order suggest the appropriate treatment.

You should let your doctor know if you are taking any medicines, have a medical history of stomach ulcers, any other disease, have undergone surgery previously, etc.

Your doctor will perform an endoscopy in your stomach and duodenum and X ray of the upper digestive tract will be taken with barium swallow.

Biopsy of the duodenum might be done during endoscopy and breath test might be done to investigate H.pyloriinfection.

Treatment of duodenal ulcer

Diet and lifestyle:

Your doctor would certainly suggest a change in your diet, which involves the elimination of spicy foods, acidic varieties (like lemon, oranges, limes, etc.), caffeine and alcohol. Your diet will be basically made simple and bland to help in quick healing of the ulcers. To soothe down the burning sensation in the stomach, doctors usually advice drinking cold water. You will also be advised to stop smoking.

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Antibiotics are prescribed to treat bacterial infection. Apart from that, antacids, proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers, and mucosal membrane protection drugs are prescribed to heal the ulcers and restore the health of the duodenum. Your doctor might also consider stopping the drugs or altering the dose of the medicines that might have led to duodenal ulcers.


Usually the  anti-ulcer medicines are capable of healing the sores. However, if the ulcers do not heal or if they recur often than your doctor might consider surgery in the duodenum and stomach.

Any lag in the treatment it can lead to many complications. Speak to your doctor about the duodenal ulcer and its treatment.

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Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 27, 2015

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