What is an Ulcer?


An ulcer is a sore on the lining of your digestive tract, which consists of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum (the first part of the intestines) and intestines. Ulcers cause a gnawing or burning pain in your stomach. However, most people who have stomach pain don’t have an ulcer. Your doctor may use tests to decide if your stomach pain is caused by
an ulcer.

What is a peptic ulcer?
A peptic ulcer is a hole in the gut lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. A peptic ulcer of the stomach is called a gastric ulcer; of the duodenum, a duodenal ulcer; and of the esophagus, an esophageal ulcer. An ulcer occurs when the lining of these organs is corroded by the acidic digestive juices which are secreted by the stomach cells.

Peptic ulcer disease is common, affecting millions of Americans yearly. The medical cost of treating peptic ulcer and its complications runs in the billions of dollars annually. Recent medical advances have increased our understanding of ulcer formation. Improved and expanded treatment options are now available.

Stomach ulcer:

The stomach ulcer and the ulcer of the duodenum (at the very bottom of the stomach structure – the first few inches of the beginning of the small intestine) are erosions of the tissue (mucosa) which lines (forms the inner surface of) the gastrointestinal tract. All parts of the body exposed to the environment – except the skin – have this protective lining. The mucosal tissue is primarily comprised of what are called epithelial cells, attached to what is called the basement membrane. The epithelial mucosal cells secrete
mucous – so now you know why this tissue is called mucosal tissue…

mucous is that really sticky stuff that no one really likes to talk about – but which is very protective –
helps prevent potentially harmful little critters from getting a “grip” and setting up shop in areas very close to our very important parts… Depending on where the mucosal tissue is, e.g., the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary, or genital tracts, or the eye, the amount of mucous and the various things secreted within this fluid, are a little
different. Since we are talking about stomach ulcers, we’ll focus on the gastric mucosa.


Some people with a peptic ulcer have no symptoms. However, many people have upper abdominal pain usually just below the breastbone (sternum). You may sometimes feel a pain in your back. The pain usually comes on an hour or two after eating and can be relieved by more food or antacid medicine. It may also wake you at night.
Other symptoms may include:
·    belching
·    heartburn
·    general discomfort in the abdomen
·    bloating or fullness after eating
·    feeling sick
·    vomiting

Causes and Risk Factors for Ulcers
At one time ulcers were believed to be the result of too much stomach acid. It is now known that the main factors that lead to ulcers are the bacteria H. pylori and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). These disturb the normal defense and repair processes of the mucosal linings, making them more vulnerable to attack from stomach acid.

Mouth ulcer
Also known as aphthous ulcers, mouth ulcers are painful, clearly defined, round, or oval sores which form in the mouth.

There are three main types of mouth ulcer which are outlined below.
·    Minor ulcer – these are the most common type of ulcer. They account for 80% of all mouth ulcers. They are small (2-8mm in diameter) and normally heal naturally within

10-14 days. A minor ulcer will not cause any scarring.