No single cause has been found for ulcers. However, it is now clear that an ulcer is the end result of an imbalance between digestive fluids in the stomach and duodenum. Ulcers can be caused by:
Infection with a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
Why do people get ulcers?
The most common cause is infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria and this is responsible for up to 90 per cent of all cases of peptic ulceration.
What Causes Ulcers?
Use of painkillers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, and others), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Midol, and others), and many others available by prescription. Even aspirin coated with a special substance can still cause ulcers.
Ulcers are sores on the lining of your digestive tract. Your digestive tract consists of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum (the first part of the intestines) and intestines. Most ulcers are located in the duodenum. These ulcers are called duodenal ulcers. Ulcers located in the stomach are called gastric ulcers. Ulcers in the esophagus are called esophageal ulcers.
Signs and symptoms of Ulcers
Stomach pain is the most common symptom of an ulcer. It usually feels like sharp aches between the breastbone and the belly button. This pain often comes a few hours after eating. It can also happen during the night or early in the morning, when the stomach is empty. Eating something or taking an antacid medication sometimes makes the pain go away for awhile.
Often be temporarily relieved by eating certain foods that buffer stomach acid or by taking an acid-reducing medication
Come and go for a few days or weeks
Treatment of Ulcers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with other government agencies, academic institutions, and industry, launches a national education campaign to inform health care providers and consumers about the link between H. pylori and ulcers. This campaign reinforces the news that ulcers are a curable infection, and the fact that health can be greatly improved and money saved by disseminating information about H. pylori. Medical researchers sequence the H. pylori genome. This discovery can help scientists better understand the bacterium and design more effective drugs to fight it.
H2-blockers reduce the amount of acid that the stomach makes. These medicines include cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), famotidine (Pepcid) and nizatidine (Axid). A single bedtime dose starts healing a duodenal ulcer in four weeks and a gastric ulcer in six to eight weeks.
Studies have shown that a protein in the stomach called histamine stimulates gastric acid secretion. Histamine antagonists (H2 blockers) are drugs designed to block the action of histamine on gastric cells, hence reducing acid output. Examples of H2 blockers are cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), nizatidine (Axid), and famotidine (Pepcid).
If the peptic ulcer is due to use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), they should be discontinued because they slow or prevent healing. NSAIDs are available both by prescription and over-the-counter. Nonprescription NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Doctors may recommend NSAIDs with a lower risk for causing ulcers, such as COX-2 inhibitors.