Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is a condition in which there are open sores in the lining of the stomach called gastric ulcers, or in the first part of the intestine, the duodenum, called duodenal ulcers. Some people who have ulcers have no symptoms while others will experience abdominal pain. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting and bloating. Sometimes the ulcers will bleed and, if severe, this bleeding can be life threatening. The most common causes of PUD are Helicobacter pylori infection and medications called NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, aspirin).
PUD is diagnosed by upper endoscopy. If ulcers are identified during the procedure, they are photographed, biopsied, and if bleeding is present, they can be treated.
Treatment of PUD largely depends on the cause of the condition and the clinical features that are or are not present (e.g., bleeding). All patients will receive medications that block the production of acid. If medications are implicated in the development of PUD, the patient’s healthcare provider may recommend an alternative medication. If H. pylori infection is present then antibiotics will be prescribed. Most ulcers will heal with treatment.