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Management of Peptic Ulcer Disease

Peptic ulcers are painful sores or ulcers that occur in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

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Until the 80’s, peptic ulcer disease was referred to as an incurable, relapsing disorder. However, after certain risk factors were identified, management of peptic ulcer disease became easy.

Let us have a look at the risk factors of peptic ulcer disease and then understand its management.

Risk Factors for Peptic Ulcer Disease

There is an increased risk of peptic ulcers in people who:

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  • Smoke or chew tobacco
  • Are infected with Helicobacter pylori
  • Drink excessive alcohol
  • Use of painkillers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.
  • Excessive acid production from the gastrinomas
  • Have received radiation treatment in the area for some other condition
  • Suffering from a serious illness

Management of the Disease

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The management of peptic ulcer disease is based on its etiology, ulcer characteristics as well as the natural medical history of the patient.

Eradication of H. pylori

The initial management of peptic ulcer disease includes eradication of the Helicobacter pylori infection. All patients are compulsorily tested for H. pylori  infection. Those tested positive are first treated for eradication of the infection. Whether the patient is clear from the infection is confirmed after about 4 or more weeks after completion of the therapy. A combination of antibiotic medications is prescribed to kill the bacterium.

Blocking Acid Production

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Use of proton pump inhibitors to reduce the stomach acid by blocking certain actions of cells that produce acid. Drugs prescribed include rabeprazole, esomeprazole, lansoprazole, etc. Do ask the doctor whether you require calcium supplements along with the proton pump inhibitors. This is because long-term use of these medications increases the risk of developing fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine.

Use of Antacids

Antacids are prescribed to neutralize the stomach acid and provide quick relief. However, antacids could lead to constipation or diarrhea. Antacids help in providing relief to the symptoms and have nothing to do with healing of the ulcer.

H2 Blockers

H2 or Histamine blockers are prescribed to block histamine, a chemical that triggers acid production. These H2 blockers are good in reducing the acid as well as the pain. As the amount of acid reduces, the ulcers too start to subside.

Protective Barriers

Drugs such as sucralfate do not affect the production of acid instead; they form a protective barrier on the mucous lining of the stomach. Thus, protecting the stomach from the effects of the acid. Other types of drugs such as misoprostol increase the mucus production that forms a barrier protecting the stomach lining.

If the treatment is successful, which is often the case, the ulcers start healing. If the symptoms are severe or continue after the treatment, the doctor may recommend endoscopy to find other possible causes for the condition. Speak to your doctor in detail regarding your condition. Avoid smoking, chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol as well as take your medications on time. This will prevent an occurrence of refractory ulcers that is peptic ulcers that do not heal.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: March 09, 2016