Peptic Ulcer: Diagnosis and Treatment
Peptic ulcers are among the common of all conditions affecting the human rate today. They occur far more frequent than many people believe.
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Even may young children may suffer from ulcers. In adults, ulcers of the stomach are more common in women, while ulcers of the duodenum or first part of the bowel are more common in men.
What is peptic ulcer? Actually it is an ulcerated or eroded area of the mucous membrane that lines all the digestive organs. It occurs more frequently in the stomach, duodenum, or lower end of the esophagus. All the factors involve are still not known. But ulcers almost never occur in patients with low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. The stronger the acid, the greater the likelihood of an ulcer. Emotional tensions and family arguments always seem to play a large part in the development of ulcers, probably because they cause the secretion of extra acid.
Most ulcers either develop in the first part of the duodenum or in the lower end of the stomach. Usually there is only one ulcer, but occasionally several may be present in the same patient. Most ulcers are small, probably less than half an inch across in the duodenum, and perhaps one inch across in the stomach. Ulcers in the duodenum are rarely malignant, but one in every ten occurring in the stomach may be malignant.
The most outstanding symptoms of an ulcer pain. It is usually sharp and severe. In few cases there may also be a steady aching or gnawing sensation in the upper abdomen. The patient can always put his finger on the sore spot. In duodenal ulcers the pain comes on when the patient is hungry. It may even be serve enough to waken him at night. In many cases the pain is relieved by taking the food, but is made worse by taking alcohol, condiments, and coffee. Patient with stomach ulcers may feel worse after taking food. Sometimes the ulcer may not be noticed for several weeks of months, only to flare up again under emotional strain or after taking alcohol.
Another symptoms often associated with an ulcer is heartburn, or inflammation of the esophagus. Because of spasm, stomach cannot empty itself properly, so that the high concentrated hydrochloric acid spills up into the esophagus, perhaps even forming an ulcer there to aggravate the situation.
Peptic Ulcer Diagnosis:
A correct diagnosis is most common important before beginning any treatment. In addition to the history of pain, burning, gas, and other symptoms, complete X-ray of both the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract should be done. Usually the ulcer can be seen, but in few cases the X-ray may fail to show any convincing evidence of one.
The size of ulcer is important, especially if it is in the stomach. If it is very large, it maybe necessary to remove that portion of the stomach, particularly when there is any area. In any case, the doctor will probably want to repeat the X-ray in three of four weeks to see if there is any changes in the size and shape of the ulcer. If it is getting larger in spite of medical treatment, it may be well to undergo surgery. If on the other hand, normal healing appears to be taking place, a further trial of medical treatment is wise.
Peptic Ulcer Treatment:
The most important thing is to heal the ulcer and prevent it from coming back. This means a period of both mental and physical rest to allow the stomach to heal. For large ulcers in the stomach, the patient should remain in bed for several weeks, preferably in hospital. If a repeat X-ray fails to show normal healing whithin the stomach after such a period, the trouble may be due to cancer, and the suspected area should be removed.
Large duodenal ulcers are also best treated in hospital during the acute stage, particularly if bleeding has occurred. Following this, bed rest at home for two weeks may bring the ulcer under control. One of must carefully guard against serious complications, the worst being perforation of the ulcer, followed by severe hemorrhage and shock.
Diet is most important in the treatment of ulcers. During the acute stage it maybe necessary to take a liquid diet every one to two hours few days. Milk is best for this purpose, for it provides both protein and calcium in adequate quantities to aid healing and support the whole system, Medications given are usually belladonna products, which have a soothing, healing effect on the digestive system. As the patient improves, other foods should be added to the diet, such as bland cereals, simple desserts, and mushed potato. Gradually he can return to a more complete diet, provided the pain is brought under control.