Upper Digestive Tract Ulcers
Conditions that result in ulcers of the upper part of the digestive tract are listed below.
The causes of ulcers of the upper digestive tract are listed below:
Ulcers in the Oral Cavity: Ulcers in the oral cavity could be due to multiple causes. Some conditions that result in ulcers of the mouth are:
- Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis: Recurrent aphthous stomatitis is a common condition that results in recurrent small painful ulcers in the mouth. The ulcers are shallow, round or ovoid and recur at intervals of a few days or up to 2 to 3 months.
- Trauma, Cancer, and Infections like Syphilis and Tuberculosis: These conditions result in a single mouth ulcer. If the ulcer does not heal in 10-14 days after the source of trauma is removed, it should be evaluated for cancer.
- BehÁetís disease: BehÁetís disease is an inflammatory condition in which the patient suffers from recurrent oral aphthous ulcers. In addition, the patient also suffers from genital ulcers, inflammation of the eye and skin lesions. In some cases, joints, nervous system, blood vessels and intestines may also be affected.
- Herpes: Viral infections like herpes can cause painful mouth ulcers. Herpes usually manifests as small boils or blisters. Lymph nodes in the neck may be swollen.
- Vitamin Deficiency: Vitamin deficiency, especially deficiency of vitamin B and C can result in mouth ulcers.
Ulcers of the Esophagus:
- Esophagitis: Esophagitis is a condition marked by inflammation of the esophagus or food pipe, sometimes accompanied by ulceration. It is often caused by reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus.
- Mallory-Weiss Tear: Mallory-Weiss tear is a condition where the lining of the esophagus is torn due to prolonged vomiting or conditions where the abdominal pressure is increased like coughing, severe hiccupping or childbirth.
Stomach and Duodenal Ulcers: Stomach and duodenal ulcers cause pain in the upper part of the abdomen. The pain in stomach ulcers is usually increased just following a meal, whereas in duodenal ulcers, it occurs 2 to 3 hours after a meal. The pain in duodenal ulcers is usually relieved with food or antacids. It may wake up the patient at night. The pain of stomach or duodenal ulcer may be accompanied by dark stools and anemia (due to bleeding from the ulcer). Other symptoms like belching, bloating, and distention of the abdomen may also be present.
Causes of stomach and duodenal ulcers include:
- Helicobacter Pylori Infection: Infection with a bacterium called H. pylori results in stomach ulcers. Treatment with a specific course of antibiotics and acid suppressant is used to eradicate the bacteria.
- NSAIDs: Painkillers belonging to the NSAID group like indomethacin, naproxen and diclofenac, especially when used continuously for conditions like arthritis, can cause stomach ulcers. These drugs damage the stomach lining resulting in ulcers. The patient usually gives a history of using these drugs, sometimes maybe on an empty stomach. This helps to diagnose the condition.
- Alcohol and Caffeine: Alcohol and caffeine intake irritates the stomach lining and increases the chances of ulcers.
- Stress: Stressful conditions like trauma, burns, surgery and severe medical illness can result in stomach ulcers.
- Stomach Cancer: In rare cases, the stomach ulcer may be over a cancerous area. Patients have additional symptoms of unexplained weight loss, progressive difficulty in swallowing, and sometimes vomiting.
- Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome: Zollinger-Ellison syndrome results in multiple stomach and duodenal ulcers. The patient may also suffer from kidney stones, watery diarrhea, or malabsorption. The condition is diagnosed by measuring the levels of gastrin, a hormone that stimulates the secretion of gastric acid.
- Definition and Facts about Peptic Ulcer (Stomach Ulcer) - (http://www.emedicinehealth.com/peptic_ulcers/article_em.htm)
- Peptic Ulcer Disease - (http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/181753-overview)
- Field EA, Allan RB. Review article: oral ulceration Ė aetiopathogenesis, clinical diagnosis and management in the gastrointestinal clinic. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2003; 18: 949Ė962.
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