Food makes its way to your stomach by way of your esophagus, or gullet. Your stomach makes an acid that helps food to be digested and then passes the food along to your duodenum, which is the first part of your small intestine. While in the small intestine, enzymes are mixed with the food in order to digest it. The enzymes are made from cells lining the small intestine and from the pancreas. Once the enzymes break down the food, your body absorbs it.
A duodenal ulcer is a peptic ulcer that occurs in the duodenum, which is the most common place for a peptic ulcer to appear. Peptic ulcers are areas where the lining of the intestine is damaged by stomach acid and the tissue underneath is exposed.
In 95% of cases, ulcers in duodenum are caused by an infection caused by the Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, bacteria.
In 5% of cases, duodenal ulcers are cased by anti-inflammatory drug use, such as those used for muscle pains or arthritis, or aspirin, which may be used to protect against the formation of blood clots. Sometimes these medications impact the duodenum's mucous barrier and cause stomach acid to come in contact with the duodenum, resulting in an ulcer.
Stomach pain that occurs just under the breastbone is the most common symptom of duodenum ulcer. The pain may come and go and is often most noticeable when you are hungry or before you eat. Sometimes it may wake you up from sleeping.
Retching, bloating and feeling ill are other symptoms that may occur. Stomach pain may become worse after eating, or you may feel uncomfortable full.
Serious complications of a duodenal ulcer can occur, including a bleeding ulcer or perforation. During perforation, the ulcer extends through the wall of the duodenum and can cause acid and food to leak into the abdomen, causing severe pain. If this occurs, seek immediate medical assistance.
Acid blockers and antacids may help temporarily relieve stomach pain due to ulcers, but if you experience ongoing symptoms of duodenal ulcer, see your doctor.
Diagnosis of duodenal and gastric ulcer differs only by its location in your body. Duodenal ulcers are those that occur in the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. If the ulcer occurs in the stomach, it is known as a gastric ulcer.
A gastroscopy or endoscopy can be performed to determine whether you have an ulcer in the duodenum. During this test, a small telescope is led down your esophagus into your stomach and duodenum. The medical professional is then able to check for and confirm any ulcers or inflammation in these areas.
If you are diagnosed with a duodenum ulcer, you will probably have a test to determine if the cause is from an infection from H. pylori bacteria. This can be done by testing stool or blood, a biopsy taken during the endoscopy, or from a breath test.
Duodenal ulcer treatment depends on the cause of the ulcer and can include the following.
Treatment should include avoiding foods that increase stomach acid production, irritation, and symptoms such as indigestion, heartburn and pain. Although different foods cause different reactions based on the individual, below is a list of foods that may cause irritation in people suffering from duodenal ulcers:
Food that should be eaten include healthy choices that are low in sugar, salt and fat from the four food groups including:
It is also a good idea to avoid eating during the last 2 hours before going to bed and to eat smaller meals more frequently.