What are the symptoms of a duodenal ulcer?
Duodenal ulcer causes inflammation and damage to the stomach lining that may result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.
Common symptoms of a duodenal ulcer
You may experience duodenal ulcer symptoms daily or just once in a while. At times any of these abdominal symptoms can be severe:
- Abdominal bloating
- Burning stomach or upper abdominal pain that may be severe
- Feeling of fullness
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition
In some cases, duodenal ulcers can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:
- Bloody stool (blood may be red, black, or tarry in texture)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Vomiting blood
- What causes a duodenal ulcer?
The most common cause of duodenal ulcer is infection with H pylori bacteria. Other causes of duodenal ulcer include agents that can cause inflammation of the stomach or duodenal lining, including alcohol, tobacco, or medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Severe illness and radiation therapy have also been associated with duodenal ulcer.
What are the risk factors for a duodenal ulcer?
A number of factors increase the risk of developing duodenal ulcer. Not all people with risk factors will get duodenal ulcer. Risk factors for duodenal ulcer include:
- Alcohol abuse
- H pylori infection
- History of radiation therapy
- Regularly taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), or aspirin
- Stress or severe illness
- Tobacco use
How is a duodenal ulcer treated?
Treatment for duodenal ulcer begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine if you have a duodenal ulcer, your health care provider may ask you to undergo diagnostic tests.
Antibiotic treatments for a duodenal ulcer
If your duodenal ulcer is caused by H pylori infection, antibiotic therapy is the mainstay of treatment. It is important to follow your antibiotic regimen precisely to avoid re-infection or recurrence. Most commonly, two antibiotics are given for 14 days. Examples of antibiotic treatments include:
- Clarithromycin (Biaxin)
- Metronidazole (Flagyl)
Other medications to treat a duodenal ulcer
Medications such as proton pump inhibitors and histamine H2-receptor antagonists, which decrease the amount of acid in the stomach, can also be an effective treatment for duodenal ulcer.
Proton pump inhibitors that are effective in the treatment of duodenal ulcer include:
- Esomeprazole (Nexium)
- Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
- Omeprazole (Prilosec)
- Pantoprazole (Protonix)
- Rabeprazole (Aciphex)
Histamine H2-receptor antagonists that are effective in the treatment of duodenal ulcer include:
- Cimetidine (Tagamet)
- Famotidine (Pepcid)
- Nizatidine (Axid)
- Ranitidine (Zantac)
If you have diarrhea and vomiting, fluid and electrolyte replenishment is also a component of successful treatment.
What are the potential complications of a duodenal ulcer?
You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Possible complications of duodenal ulcer include:
- Internal hemorrhaging
- Perforated duodenal ulcer, which can lead to bleeding
- Severe discomfort or pain
- Spread of infection
Peptic ulcer. PubMed Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001255/. Accessed May 5, 2011.
Helicobacter pylori and peptic ulcer disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ulcer/. Accessed May 5, 2011.
What is a duodenal ulcer?
A duodenal ulcer is a type of peptic ulcer that occurs in the duodenum, the beginning of the small intestine. Peptic ulcers are eroded areas in the lining of stomach and duodenum, which result in abdominal pain, possible bleeding, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. The most common cause of duodenal ulcer is a ... Read more about duodenal ulcer introduction