Saturday, November 3, 2018

Peptic Ulcer - What You Should Know

peptic ulcer and causes

When I mention Ulcer, I am sure this 'Medical Term' won't be sounding strange to your ears. An average adult knows what Ulcer is and can even describe its most common symptom (pain in the abdomen or chest burn).

But do you know that Ulcers can develop anywhere in the body? Yes! Don't be surprised.

This is because Ulcer is a medical term to describe any form of sore.

This leads me to properly tell you that there are other Ulcers that could be located at other places (e.g. the Foot, Cornea of the Eyes, Skin, Mouth, Gums etc) in the body and one of these is the 'Peptic Ulcer' which most people only know as 'Ulcer'.

'Peptic Ulcer' is called Peptic because the Ulcer is caused by acid.

That established, I would have you know that 'Peptic Ulcer' mostly occur in either of these two places; the Stomach (Gastric Ulcer) or the Duodenum (Duodenal Ulcer).

So what causes 'Peptic Ulcer'?

You may have wondered for so long what actually caused the several Ulcer pain attacks that you have had in times past or you have a friend or family relative that has a Peptic Ulcer.

Well here is where I get to tell you the cause of this common yet unknown enemy😡.

The popular belief is that Peptic Ulcers are caused by Not eating early, eating spicy/hot foods, drinking acidic fruits etc.

Medicine once thought these were the causes too because coincidentally many patients had Ulcer pain complaints after these few things highlighted above. But medicine began to look into other possibilities because when even after eating on time, not eating spicy foods etc, these people still had these complaints.

Due to research we now know that Peptic Ulcers develop due to the action of a bacteria known as Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori for short)

This bacteria gets into the Stomach via dirty hands, foods, faecal contents etc. This could even be from childhood but most people don't feel any symptoms till they are older.

H. Pylori, when it gets into the Stomach starts to bore/work its way into the mucous layers of the Stomach (This mucous layer protects the Stomach from its own acid content (HCl) and other digestive juices).

Note: Certain cells in the Stomach have the responsibility of producing an acid (Hydrochloric Acid) that helps in digestion of food, kills bacteria from foods we eat etc.

Most times this bacteria gets under the mucous membranes and is protected by it so that antibiotics and antibodies cannot get to it this accounts for why it can stay for so long and keep causing damage.

Note that antibodies are the body soldiers that help fight invading micro organisms. Antibiotics are more like their synthetic form.
So let's get this, what H. Pylori does is like eating up a place that is covered by a sheet of protection from an acid, and once this protective sheet is eaten off, others surfaces underneath the sheath is directly open to the acid

The exposure to the acid leads to:

Symptoms of peptic ulcer 

-Pain in the upper part of the belly.

-Chest burns


-Feeling of fullness



Another factor that leads to ulceration of the Stomach lining is long term use of Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) e.g. Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Diclofenac, Naproxen etc.

READ ALSO: What you should know about Aspirin

NSAIDS are a class of analgesics that work very effectively in reducing pain and inflammation but sadly one of their side effects is Ulcer formation due to many mechanisms which I may  not delve into because of complexity. These side effects become so pronounced when they are used for so long.
This is why I pity those who ignorantly combine drugs (painkillers for example) most times they don't know that they may be taking the same drug in different formats or names.

Another identified cause of Ulcer is the  Zolinger Ellison Syndrome (ZES)

In this syndrome there is a growth (tumor) in the Duodenum (beginning part of the intestine) or pancreas. These tumors known as Gastrinomas secrete Gastrin which causes the stomach to produce a lot acid this in turn increases the chances of developing an Ulcer.

The post is becoming very long, why don't you join me in my next post as I talk about
- How to treat/manage Peptic Ulcer;
- The myths and facts about Peptic Ulcer;
- Frequently asked Questions about Peptic Ulcers.

Meanwhile, I hope you have learnt something new from the few things I have shared.

You don't have to live with that Ulcer pain forever. I look forward to seeing you in my next post.

I would always remind you to stay consciously healthy.
I care about you and your health.
Stay healthy

Feel free to make your comments and share the posts to educate someone else.

Have a great day.

Written By: Odunoye O.S ( RN) 

ABUBAKAR Bukola is a passionate Registered Nurse, who loves impact and impacting lives.  She is a Writer and  Professional activist. All she cares about is your health. 👌