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What is an ulcer? There are not that many people who have never heard of ulcers. However, a vast number is unsure of what they are. Ulcers are sores, or open wounds. In a lot of cases, they are known to cause a lot of pain. Certain types of ulcers can form in the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine and these ulcers are known as peptic ulcers. It is not uncommon for these ulcer types to occur.

The causes of ulcer

For a long period of time, it was thought that ulcers occur due to stress, spicy foods and alcohol consumption. However, with modern medicine, doctors were able to diagnose that peptic ulcers occur in the stomach and small intestine due to a certain bacterial infection in the stomach. This infection is caused by the intake of certain medications and by smoking. An infection named H. pylori is thought to cause peptic ulcer. According to certain research, 90% of all people diagnosed with peptic ulcer are infected with H. pylori. An interesting thing is that most people with this infection never develop an ulcer. However, it depends on the person whether he or she will develop it or not.

How ulcers form

When the H. pylori is the cause of an ulcer, the doctors believe that that happens because the bacteria first weaken the protective coating of the stomach and upper small intestine. Next, the acid in the stomach gets past to the sensitive tissue lining of the digestive system. Then, both the acid and the bacteria irritate the lining which eventually results in ulcers. Apart from this bacteria, there are other factors that can cause the occurrence of peptic ulcers. Some of the most common causes are the intake of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like Aspirin or ibuprofen. Smoking is another reason that leads to peptic ulcers. Signs and symptoms

The most common sign of peptic ulcer is stomach pain. The pain is in most cases sharp and it usually occurs several hours after a meal. Apart from stomach pain, a person may also experience loss of appetite, nausea, frequent burping, weight loss, vomiting and either bloody or blackish bowel movements. If a person notices any of the symptoms, he or she should go to the hospital and seek medical help.

A doctor will diagnose an ulcer through a physical exam and an X-ray of the stomach. Apart from these, the patient might need to undergo several other tests. Treatment

The treatment of peptic ulcers usually consists of a combination of medications.

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