Peptic ulcer disease (also known as PUD) is commonly caused when strong acids and digestive juices harm the inner walls of the stomach and small intestine. In normal cases, the mucus layers present in these areas protect them from such attacks. Ulcers occur when these protective layers wear away due to some or other reason. There are mainly two types of peptic ulcers, based on their location.
Gastric ulcers relates to the sores in the stomach. This type of ulcer is found to be more common in women than in men. In this case, the pain gets worsened soon after eating a meal. Duodenal ulcers relates to those sores that are formed in the upper part of the small intestine called the duodenum. Duodenal ulcers are more common in men. Pain from duodenal ulcers typically occurs when the stomach remains empty either at night or in between meals. Food along with proper medication helps in relieving this kind of pain.
A burning pain in the abdominal region often characterizes peptic ulcer. The gnawing ache is felt between the breastbone and navel. It is similar to “heartburn.” An ulcer can also cause a dull ache or strong hunger pangs along with bloating.
If left untreated, peptic ulcers can lead to nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, weight loss, bloody vomit, or black, tarry stools. However, some aged people do not experience any pain from an ulcer. Gastro esophageal reflux diseases and certain kinds of abdominal cancers are also found to cause similar symptoms.
Recent studies in this regard indicate that the rate of duodenal ulcer occurrence is declining among younger men and increasing in older women. Certain aggressive factors are found to make the condition worse in case of patients suffering from peptic ulcer. These harmful factors include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection, increased alcohol consumption, accumulation of bile salts, acid, and pepsin.