A peptic ulcer is an ulcer, or sore, on the lining of the stomach or where the first part of the small intestine connects to the stomach, called the duodenum. Rarely, a peptic ulcer can develop in the esophagus. Dr. Malone, can you tell us more about peptic ulcers?
Certainly, Major Spencer. The most common cause of peptic ulcers is an infection from the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori. H. pylori are spiral-shaped bacteria that likely spread through unclean food, water, eating utensils, and contact with an infected person's saliva and other bodily fluids.
Another common cause of peptic ulcers is the long-term, regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as naproxen or ibuprofen. Other risk factors of developing NSAID-induced peptic ulcers include:
- Being over 70 years old
- Being female
- Taking more than two types of NSAIDs
- Having prior peptic ulcers
- Having two or more medical conditions or diseases
- Taking other medications, such as corticosteroids and medicines to increase bone mass, and
- Drinking alcohol or smoking
In very rare cases, peptic ulcers can be caused by tumors.
Peptic ulcers can lead to a number of complications, including:
- Bleeding from a broken blood vessel in the ulcer
- A perforation, or partial tear, in the stomach or small intestine at the ulcer
- An obstruction, or blockage, that can stop food from moving from the stomach into the duodenum, and
- Peritonitis, which is an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity, with or without perforation