What Are Peptic Ulcers?

Peptic ulcer is a composite name given to three types of ulcers:

  • Esophageal ulcer
  • Gastric or stomach  ulcer
  • Duodenal ulcer

As the names suggest, the above-mentioned ulcers are found in the esophagus, the stomach, and the duodenum respectively.  A peptic ulcer occurs due to the corrosive action on the inner lining of the  esophagus, stomach, and the duodenum by the acidic digestive juices secreted in the stomach and the duodenum.

The digestive juice from the stomach contains gastric acid which  contains hydrochloric acid in dilution of 0.5%.

The peptic ulcer normally is preceded by acidity, wherein  the person feels one of the classic ulcer symptoms of gnawing stomach pain or a burning sensation in the chest. Acidity, if not taken care of may manifest into ulcer formation after some period. Furthermore, if the ulcer is ignored, it can lead to some serious complications.

Diagnosis of Ulcers

Diagnosis of peptic ulcer is done by a procedure whereby a gastroscope is inserted into the stomach through the mouth and the inner lining of the stomach and the duodenum are viewed directly. A gastroscope also has the facility  to  photograph what is being viewed.

This procedure  is  called  gastroscopy or  endoscopy. Esophgogastroduodenoscopy ( EGD) is a name given to the scopy wherein the contents of the esophagus, the stomach and the duodenum  are directly viewed.

Peptic ulcers are a very common condition throughout the world. In the United States, about 10% of the population will suffer from a peptic ulcer at some point in their lives. Men and women are equally affected.

A small percentage of the gastric ulcers may turn malignant while the duodenal ulcers are generally benign. About one person per 10,000 may die of this condition.

Millions are spent every year on the treatment of this problem. However, the incidence has shown a marginal decrease, basically due to awareness and the recent studies which have  thrown  much light on  the major cause of  ulcers.

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