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A peptic ulcer is an eroded area or open sore that occurs in the stomach, the lining of the esophagus, or upper part of the small intestine. It was formerly believed that peptic ulcers were caused by stress or eating spicy foods, but now we know that is not the case. Most instances of peptic ulcers result from a bacterial infection or can be caused by taking such medications as non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications,or NSAIDS.

When stomach acid comes into contact with the peptic ulcer a gnawing pain results. Pain in the stomach is the most common symptom. Peptic ulcers tend to result in more pain when the stomach is empty, and tend to flare up during the night. Symptoms may persist for some time, then disappear, then reappear at a later time. In severe cases, the vomiting of blood or passing dark blood in the stool may occur. In this case, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Taking an antacid or a medication that reduces stomach acid may help to temporarily bring some relief for those who suffer with a peptic ulcer. Eating certain foods that help to buffer the acid in the stomach may also provide temporary relief from symptoms.These are not cures by any means, and the relief is fleeting.

The stomach has a protective mechanism that much of time prevents the development of peptic ulcers by producing a protective layer of mucous that helps to protect the digestive tract from acid under normal circumstances. If the amount of acid is increased and/or the amount of mucous secretions become decreased, this can result in the acid of the digestive tract to literally eat away at this protective layer of mucous, resulting in the open sore that is the peptic ulcer.

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ulcers is due to the presence of Helicobactor pylori bacterium. Also known as H. pylori, these bacterium can sometimes cause irritation to the lining of the stomach caused by the disruption of the mucousal layer.

Common over the counter medications, the NSAIDS previously mentioned, can irritate the lining of the small intestine, resulting in inflammation. This is more common in people who regularly take such medications. Common over the counter medications that can contribute to the development of peptic ulcers include ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, and ketoprofin. These ingredients can be found in such OTC drugs as Motrin, Advil, Alleve, and many others like Omeprazole, Prilosec, Zegerid and Losec. Unfortunately, the ingredients that make these products so effective in relieving inflammation and pain, are also the ones that can aggravate the stomach lining.

Drinking alcohol or suffering from extremely stressful situations may increase the risk of developing a peptic ulcer. Stress alone does not cause peptic ulcers, but may be one of the factors that contribute to its development. With alcohol, it cause irritation and an increase in levels of acid. Smoking in people who already have the H.pylori bacterium present in their system may also be at an increased risk for developing a peptic ulcer.

If left untreated, a peptic ulcer can result in sever stomach bleeding, leading to anemia or blood loss requiring a visit to the hospital. One may also risk developing a severe infection of the stomach known as peritonitis.For more information on peptic ulcers, please visit the Mayo Clinic website.

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