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Peptic Ulcer
(H. pylori)


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What is a peptic ulcer?

A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of the stomach or duodenum, which is the beginning of the small intestine. Peptic ulcers are common: One in 10 Americans develops an ulcer at some time in his or her life. One cause of peptic ulcer is bacterial infection, but some ulcers are caused by long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), like aspirin and ibuprofen. In a few cases, cancerous tumors in the stomach or pancreas can cause ulcers. Peptic ulcers are not caused by stress or eating spicy food, but these can make ulcers worse.
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What is H. pylori?

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria. Researchers believe that H. pylori is responsible for the majority of peptic ulcers.

H. pylori infection is common in the United States: About 20 percent of people under 40 years old and half of those over 60 years have it. Most infected people, however, do not develop ulcers. Why H. pylori does not cause ulcers in every infected person is not known. Most likely, infection depends on characteristics of the infected person, the type of H. pylori, and other factors yet to be discovered.

Researchers are not certain how people contract H. pylori, but they think it may be through food or water.

Researchers have found H. pylori in the saliva of some infected people, so the bacteria may also spread through mouth-to-mouth contact such as kissing.
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How does H. pylori cause a peptic ulcer?

H. pylori weakens the protective mucous coating of the stomach and duodenum, which allows acid to get through to the sensitive lining beneath. Both the acid and the bacteria irritate the lining and cause a sore, or ulcer.

H. pylori is able to survive in stomach acid because it secretes enzymes that neutralize the acid. This mechanism allows H. pylori to make its way to the "safe" area—the protective mucous lining. Once there, the bacterium's spiral shape helps it burrow through the lining.
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What are the symptoms of an ulcer?

Abdominal discomfort is the most common symptom. This discomfort usually:

Other symptoms include:

Some people experience only very mild symptoms, or none at all.

Emergency Symptoms

If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away:
  • sharp, sudden, persistent stomach pain

  • bloody or black stools

  • bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds

They could be signs of a serious problem, such as
  • perforation—when the ulcer burrows through the stomach or duodenal wall

  • bleeding—when acid or the ulcer breaks a blood vessel

  • obstruction—when the ulcer blocks the path of food trying to leave the stomach
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How is an H. pylori-related ulcer diagnosed?

Diagnosing an Ulcer

To see whether symptoms are caused by an ulcer, the doctor may do an upper gastrointestinal (GI) series or an endoscopy. An upper GI series is an x ray of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The patient drinks a chalky liquid called barium to make these organs and any ulcers show up more clearly on the x ray.

An endoscopy is an exam that uses an endoscope, a thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera on the end. The patient is lightly sedated, and the doctor carefully eases the endoscope into the mouth and down the throat to the stomach and duodenum. This allows the doctor to see the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The doctor can use the endoscope to take photos of ulcers or remove a tiny piece of tissue to view under a microscope. This procedure is called a biopsy. If an ulcer is bleeding, the doctor can use the endoscope to inject drugs that promote clotting or to guide a heat probe that cauterizes the ulcer.

Diagnosing H. pylori

If an ulcer is found, the doctor will test the patient for H. pylori. This test is important because treatment for an ulcer caused by H. pylori is different from that for an ulcer caused by NSAIDs.

H. pylori is diagnosed through blood, breath, stool, and tissue tests. Blood tests are most common. They detect antibodies to H. pylori bacteria. Blood is taken at the doctor's office through a finger stick.

Urea breath tests are an effective diagnostic method for H. pylori. They are also used after treatment to see whether it worked. In the doctor's office, the patient drinks a urea solution that contains a special carbon atom. If H. pylori is present, it breaks down the urea, releasing the carbon. The blood carries the carbon to the lungs, where the patient exhales it. The breath test is 96 percent to 98 percent accurate.

Stool tests may be used to detect H. pylori infection in the patient's fecal matter. Studies have shown that this test, called the Helicobacter pylori stool antigen (HpSA) test, is accurate for diagnosing H. pylori.

Tissue tests are usually done using the biopsy sample that is removed with the endoscope. There are three types: In diagnosing H. pylori, blood, breath, and stool tests are often done before tissue tests because they are less invasive. However, blood tests are not used to detect H. pylori following treatment because a patient's blood can show positive results even after H. pylori has been eliminated.
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How are H. pylori peptic ulcers treated?

Since Digestinol is an all-natural product made from the Aloe Mucilaginous Polysaccharides found in the aloe vera plant, it contains a large variety of vitamins, natural enzymes, amino acids, and minerals that the human body can utilize and benefit from during the healing process.

Digestinol has the power to naturally detoxify your intestines/digestive tract which actually helps to cleanse your bowel. This helps to reduce the inflammation in your digestive tract, relieve the strain from your immune system and greatly reduce your discomfort.
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Can H. pylori infection be prevented?

No one knows for sure how H. pylori spreads, so prevention is difficult. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine to prevent infection.
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Why don't all doctors automatically check for H. pylori?

Changing medical belief and practice takes time. For nearly 100 years, scientists and doctors thought that ulcers were caused by stress, spicy food, and alcohol. Treatment involved bed rest and a bland diet. Later, researchers added stomach acid to the list of causes and began treating ulcers with antacids.

Since H. pylori was discovered in 1982, studies conducted around the world have shown that using antibiotics to destroy H. pylori cures peptic ulcers. The prevalence of H. pylori ulcers is changing. The infection is becoming less common in people born in developed countries. The medical community, however, continues to debate H. pylori's role in peptic ulcers. If you have a peptic ulcer and have not been tested for H. pylori infection, talk to your doctor.
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Points to Remember

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