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Stomach and Duodenal Ulcers (Peptic Ulcers)

Illustration of the anatomy of the digestive system, adult

What is a stomach or duodenal ulcer?

About 25 million Americans develop at least one ulcer during their lifetime.

An ulcer is an open sore, or lesion, usually found on the skin or mucous membrane areas of the body.

What causes gastric and duodenal ulcers?

In the past, it was believed lifestyle factors, such as stress and diet caused ulcers. Later, researchers determined that stomach acids - hydrochloric acid and pepsin - contributed to ulcer formation.

Today, research shows that most ulcers (80 percent of gastric ulcers and 90 percent of duodenal ulcers) develop as a result of infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).

It is believed that, although all of these factors - lifestyle, acid and pepsin, and H. pylori - play a role in ulcer development, H. pylori is considered to be the primary cause in most cases.

Factors suspected of playing a role in the development of stomach or duodenal ulcers include:

What are the symptoms of gastric and duodenal ulcers?

The following are the most common symptoms for ulcers. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.

Although ulcers do not always cause symptoms, the most common ulcer symptom is a gnawing or burning pain in the abdomen between the breastbone and the navel. The pain often occurs between meals and in the early hours of the morning. It may last from a few minutes to a few hours. Less common ulcer symptoms include:

The symptoms of stomach and duodenal ulcers may resemble other digestive conditions or medical problems. Consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

What are some complications from ulcers?

Without proper treatment, people with ulcers may experience serious complications. The most common problems include:

How are ulcers diagnosed?

Because treatment protocols may be different for different types of ulcers, it is important to adequately diagnose ulcer disease and H. pylori before starting treatment. For example, for an NSAID-induced ulcer, treatment is quite different from the treatment for a person diagnosed with an ulcer caused by the bacterium, H. pylori.

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for ulcers may include:

Treatment for stomach and duodenal ulcers:

Specific treatment will be determined by your child's physician based on the following:

Recommended treatment may include:

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