PEPTIC ULCER (Introduction)

There was a day my house cleaner came over to tidy the house and I noticed she wasn’t quite herself.

The discomfort on her face screamed, “I am not healthy enough to successfully render my services,” but she kept quiet about it.

Like the good employer that I am, I asked a very vital question.

“Are you healthy enough to work today? You look unwell.”

After much reluctance, she opened up.

Apparently, she was nursing a disturbing abdominal pain and felt super nauseous.

This babe knew nothing about the possible cause/management of her abdominal pain. She had made a habit of sitting at home and waiting out the pain.

In all fairness, she isn’t the most educated employee, neither is she medically inclined. I however knew as soon as I asked a few questions that she was most likely dealing with Peptic Ulcer disease.

What is PUD?

IMG 8938

Fully known as Peptic Ulcer disease, it is characterized by open sores which develop on the inside lining of the esophagus, stomach and/or upper portion of the small intestine. In summary, it is the presence of a wound on the mucosa (inside) layer of some parts of the Gastrointestinal tract.

Those that occur in the stomach are referred to as Gastric Ulcers, while those that occur on the upper portion of the small intestine (duodenum) are known as Duodenal Ulcers. There is another less common kind known as esophageal Ulcers for sores which are found on the inner lining of the esophagus.

Sadly, PUD is now becoming quite common among the young, middle aged and the elderly. It is such a distressing condition that reduces one’s quality of life. If not nipped in the bud, complications could be life threatening.

Just in case you are wondering what predisposes to/ causes peptic ulcers. Please permit me to school you so you make no assumptions or wrong notions.

Causes of Peptic ulcer

  • A certain Bacteria; a complete nuisance by the way, called Helico bacter pylori (H.pylori) has been implicated. Yes, most people infected with H. pylori do not get ulcers. But in others, it could increase the amount of acid break down in the protective mucus layer, and irritate the digestive tract. How this bacteria is spread is not clear cut. However, some studies have suggested that it could be passed from person to person through kissing and also from the consumption of unclean food.
  • Another Big winger on PUD is the prolonged use of Pain medications; Non-steroidal Antiinflammatory drugs (the likes of Ibuprofen and Naproxen) You see, NSAIDs block the body from making a chemical that protects the inner walls of the stomach and small intestine from stomach acid. However, please note that drugs like paracetamol (acetaminophen) won’t cause Peptic Ulcer.

I’ll proceed with listing out the other possible causes.

  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Radiation therapy
  • 📢Dangerous Alcohol based agbo (Let me make this one loud for my country people!)
  • Some rare cancerous and noncancerous tumors in the stomach, duodenum, or pancreas—known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.

NB: Please note that contrary to popular belief, stress, delayed eating and consumption of spicy foods don’t cause ulcers, as experts once thought. But they could work with other factors present and make ulcers worse and harder to treat.

Symptoms

What gives the highest index of suspicion for PUD?

ABDOMINAL PAIN

Diagrammatic representation of pain locations in the abdominal quadrant

The commonest location for peptic ulcer pain is the quadrant above the umbilicus, precisely in the middle, also known as the epigastric region. It is usually the first symptom noted by patients with PUD.

  • Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching.
  • Intolerance to fatty foods.
  • Heartburn (it is this burning, uncomfortable feeling in the chest)
  • Nausea and sometimes vomiting
  • Lack of appetite or weight loss
  • Bloody or dark poop (also known as Melena stool)

Small ulcers may not cause any symptoms. But if you notice any of these signs, please talk to your doctor.

As always, let’s make this a two-part post, shall we? Just so you don’t take in too much information at once. Please check the next health post for information on PUD management.

Thanks Guys!

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