Understanding Peptic Ulcer Disease

Published April 9, 2024 by

If you frequently take one of the popular over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like Motrin, Advil, or Aleve, you could be playing Russian Roulette with your stomach. Known as NSAIDS, these meds, along with other risk factors, can lead to peptic ulcer disease. Let us provide some help understanding peptic ulcer disease.

What Are Peptic Ulcers?

Peptic ulcers are open sores in the lining of your stomach and the upper part of the intestine. That sounds painful, and they can be. Normally the mucus lining of the stomach can protect itself from strong stomach acids, but sometimes that protection breaks down.

The most common cause is a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). It attaches itself to the layer of mucus and leads to inflammation and irritation causing the lining to break down.

That along with long-term use of NSAIDS and aspirin cause the ulcers to form.

However, taking acetaminophen or Tylenol does not increase the risk of peptic ulcer disease.

Symptoms of Peptic Ulcer Disease

Some small ulcers may not have any symptoms, whereas some ulcers can cause serious bleeding.

The most common symptoms include the following:

  • Gnawing pain in the upper abdomen
  • Pain that wakes you up at night
  • Symptoms that flare when you have an empty stomach (about 3 hours after eating)
  • Feeling full and not able to drink as much fluid
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dark stools
  • Chest pain
  • Heartburn
  • Weight loss

Additional Risk Factors

In addition to long-term use of NSAIDS and the bacteria, there are additional factors which raise your risk of developing peptic ulcer disease.

Smoking or chewing tobacco can significantly increase the risk. Drinking too much alcohol, having radiation treatments, being on a ventilator, and stress can impact peptic ulcer disease. These things do not necessarily cause ulcers, but they exacerbate the ulcers, make the symptoms worse, and make the ulcers more difficult to heal.

It is important to see a Gastroenterologist in Chicago if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of peptic ulcer disease, especially if you have any of the additional risk factors. 

Untreated stomach ulcers can lead to a perforation in your stomach and life-threatening peritonitis. Getting treatment can save your life.

Contact GI Solutions at (773) 631-2728 for an evaluation of your symptoms and for treatment if you have peptic ulcer disease.


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