Anatomy of an Ulcer
- The bacteria can live in the stomach because they attach to cells and produce an enzyme that stops the corrosive effects of stomach acid.
- The bacteria damages the protective mucous layers of both the stomach and the duodenum.
- Not everyone who has the bacteria will develop an ulcer.
- Being infected with the bacteria is also a risk factor for developing stomach cancer.
- Internal bleeding
- Perforation (a hole) in the stomach or duodenum allowing food and bacteria to spill into the abdomen and cause infection and irritation
- Blockage of the opening between the stomach and duodenum due to chronic inflammation that leads to swelling and scarring
Discovering the Causes of Ulcers
The Telltale Burn
- Vomiting—can be bloody or appear like coffee grounds if the ulcer is bleeding
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Bloody or black stool caused by bleeding from the ulcer
- Endoscopy —an examination of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum using a small, flexible tube-like instrument containing a camera that is inserted through your throat
- Upper GI series —x-rays of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum are taken after you drink a chalky substance that outlines the shape of the digestive tract
Removing the Offending Agent
Steering Clear of Ulcers
- Wash hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and before eating
- Eat food that has been washed and cooked
- Drink water from a clean source
The American College of Gastroenterology http://www.acg.gi.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases http://www.niddk.nih.gov
College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
H. pylori and peptic ulcers. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hpylori/. Updated October 30, 2013. Accessed March 10, 2014.
Helicobacter pylori and cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/h-pylori-cancer. Updated September 5, 2013. Accessed March 10, 2014.
Helicobacter pylori infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 7, 2014. Accessed March 10, 2014.
International Agency for Research on Cancer. Schistosomes, liver flukes and Helicobacter pylori. IARC 1994; 61:177.
Peptic ulcer disease. EBSCO Dynamed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 21, 2014. Accessed March 10, 2014.
Press release: The Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine 2005. Nobel Prize website. Available at: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel%5Fprizes/medicine/laureates/2005/press.html. Published October 3, 2005. Accessed March 10, 2014.
Uemura N, Okamoto S, Yamamoto S, et al. Helicobacter pylori infection and the development of gastric cancer. N Engl J Med. 2001;345(11):784-789.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 03/2014 -
- Update Date: 03/10/2014 -