Peptic ulcers are open sores that can occur in the stomach, esophagus, and small intestine. When these are left untreated, perforation occurs. This HealthHearty article will throw some light on the symptoms of this condition, and more.
When peptic ulcers are left undiagnosed and untreated, they can create complications and become perforated. These can occur in the stomach (gastric ulcers), esophagus (esophageal ulcers), and the upper portion of the small intestine (duodenal ulcers). They can occur as a result of hole(s) in the stomach, duodenal, or esophagus wall, and cause a lot of trouble in the affected areas due to bacterial infection and inflammation.
Perforated peptic ulcers are mostly caused by a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori, which is a corkscrew-shaped bacterium. It is actually not known how this bacterium transmits from one person to another, but usually close contact such as kissing, sharing cigarettes, alcohol, etc., can be the cause.
The symptoms vary depending upon the situation, whether the person is suffering from the acute or chronic form of perforation. It was surprising to know, but most of the time, a person never experiences any severe symptoms, except for mild abdominal pain. However, in some cases, the symptoms may be disturbing. Some of these are mentioned as under.
- Abdominal pain right from the navel to the breast bone.
- Blood vomiting due to the damage of the blood vessels in the stomach, esophageal, or duodenum lining. The vomit may appear to be blackish red.
- Blood in stool may also appear due to the same reason.
- Unexplained weight loss due to obstruction from narrowed digestive passage, which makes the patient feel fuller, or makes him/her vomit.
- Appetite loss
- Melena, a condition which makes the feces smell foul and tarry. This is because of the oxidization of iron and hemoglobin.
- Perforation makes the acid level way too high for the mucus to protect the lining. Therefore, another symptom may include water brash, which is when the saliva rushes into the body after an episode, in order to balance the acid in the esophagus.
- Patients may also suffer from various health conditions including peritonitis, pancreatitis, pyloric stenosis, etc.
- Complications due to the avoidance of symptoms may also lead to gastrointestinal bleeding.
- Another common symptom is experiencing extreme pain while the stomach is empty. This pain usually subsides after eating food, especially those foods which reduce the acid levels in the stomach.
- The pain in the stomach is recurring in nature. Which means that it tends to disappear and come back after some days. The pain usually flares up during the night, usually because of an empty stomach.
The treatment will depend upon the signs and symptoms. Symptoms such as vomiting blood, blood in stool, etc., can be treated by cauterizing the affected blood vessel via endoscopic treatment. However, if this doesn’t prove to be fruitful then surgery may be considered. For symptoms that involve obstruction leading to a narrowed intestinal opening, treatment using endoscopic balloon dilation may be done.
This involves using a balloon to open up the narrowed passage. Surgery is the last resort if this treatment fails. Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) usually help prevent the recurrence of these ulcers. Also, refraining from alcohol and smoking will definitely contribute in decreasing the potential risk of their occurrence.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a replacement for expert medical advice. Consulting a trusted healthcare specialist is highly recommended.