Kevin H. Ashby, MD
Gastroenterologist servicing Orange County, CA located in Foothill Ranch, CA
About 4.6 million Americans develop peptic ulcers every year. Although they’re sometimes asymptomatic, peptic ulcers can cause a number of frustrating symptoms including upper abdominal pain, nausea, heartburn, and other GERD-like symptoms. At the private gastroenterology practice of Kevin Ashby, MD, in Foothill Ranch, California, you can get compassionate treatment from a leading gastrointestinal (GI) specialist. Click the online appointment tool or call the office for an appointment.
Peptic Ulcers Q & A
What are peptic ulcers?
Peptic ulcers are sores within your duodenum (the start of your small intestine) or stomach. Duodenal ulcers occur in the duodenum, and gastric ulcers are in the stomach. You can have duodenal and gastric ulcers simultaneously.
What causes peptic ulcers?
Peptic ulcers occur because of digestive fluid problems, in particular acid and pepsin enzyme imbalance. This imbalance leads to irritation, gradual wearing away of protective lining, and ulcer growth.
Sometimes, ulcers can penetrate deeper layers of your intestinal lining, eventually making a hole, known as a perforated ulcer.
The most common underlying causes of digestive fluid imbalance leading to peptic ulcers are bacterial infections caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and long-term use of anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs).
Certain risk factors, including smoking, alcohol use, and aging can also contribute. Contrary to popular belief, peptic ulcers don't develop because of stress, anxiety, a fatty diet, or spicy foods.
What are the symptoms of peptic ulcers?
Not all peptic ulcers cause symptoms, but others cause a variety of issues, such as:
- Burning sensation in your upper abdomen
- Upper abdominal pain
- Decreased appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
- Frequent burping
- Bloody or dark stool
- Blood in vomit
Symptoms can be misleading, as peptic ulcers often cause the same symptoms as conditions like GERD. If you have any of these issues, Dr. Ashby can perform blood tests, upper endoscopy, or other tests to diagnose the cause of your symptoms.
How are peptic ulcers treated?
Peptic ulcer treatment usually includes both habit changes and medication.
Habit changes usually include avoiding smoking, alcohol, and NSAIDs. It may also help to eat smaller meals more frequently.
Depending on the type and cause of your peptic ulcer, Dr. Ashby may prescribe drugs such as antibiotics or proton pump inhibitors (acid blockers).
In some cases, Dr. Ashby can stop ulcer bleeding during an upper endoscopy procedure. For severe complications, like perforated ulcers, you may need surgery to remove a portion of the stomach or disable the nerve responsible for acid production.
If you have peptic ulcers, you can get the relief you need at Kevin Ashby, MD. For compassionate and personalized care that puts you at ease, reach out by phone or through the online scheduler to set up your appointment.