Peptic Ulcer Disease: What You Need To Know

Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD) occurs when a person has chronic peptic ulcers. Peptic ulcers are sores in the stomach or duodenum lining that develop when stomach acid deteriorates the lining. There are several treatment options available for PUD based on the cause of the disease in a particular person. 

Here’s what you need to know about Peptic Ulcer Disease. 

Causes and Risk Factors 

PUD is usually caused by one of two things. First, a bacterial infection from a bacteria called H. pylori can lead to inflammation in stomach lining and eventually cause ulcers. H. pylori can be transmitted from human-to-human contact, food, or water. Second, the long-term use of anti-inflammatory medications including ibuprofen and aspirin can lead to PUD because these medications can inflame the stomach lining. 

Risk factors associated with Peptic Ulcer Disease include smoking, which can increase risk of ulcers for people infected with H. pylori, and drinking, which can wear away mucus in the stomach lining and increase stomach acid production. 

Symptoms

Common symptoms of Peptic Ulcer Disease include burning stomach pain, nausea, heartburn, bloating, and fatty food intolerance. Burning stomach pain is the most common symptom, and having an empty stomach typically increases pain. While pain may be relieved by eating foods that help buffer stomach acid or taking anti-acid medication, it usually comes back between meals and at night. Notably, while spicy foods and stress may worsen symptoms, they do not cause ulcers. More severe symptoms can include vomiting blood, blood in stool, feeling faint, and trouble breathing. People with severe symptoms should seek medical attention. 

Diagnosis

Doctors diagnose PUD through a combination of a person’s medical history, symptoms, medication history, and tests. One test, an endoscopy, uses a hollow tube with an attached lens to view the throat, stomach, and small intestine to visually detect ulcers. Additionally, doctors often perform a test by blood sample, stool sample, or breath test to determine if H. pylori is present. A tissue sample from an endoscopy may also be used in this case. If an ulcer is found during an endoscopy, doctors may take a tissue sample for a biopsy. Lastly, an x-ray is sometimes used for diagnosis- patients drink barium prior to an x-ray to allow doctors to see internal organ detail. 

Treatment 

Treatments for PUD vary. For ulcers caused by H. pylori, antibiotics can help kill the bacterium through two weeks of treatment. Thereafter, antacid medication may be used to control stomach acid for the patient. Another treatment utilizes proton pump inhibitors, medications that reduce stomach acid by blocking cell production of acid. Another medication group used for treatment is H2 blockers, which reduce stomach acid along with reducing pain and helping healing. Lastly, antacids, medications that neutralize stomach acid, may be used to help relieve symptoms. 

Lifestyle changes are also an important part of treating Peptic Ulcer Disease. Avoiding smoking and alcohol can help reduce risk factors that lead to and worsen PUD. Managing stress can help too- relaxation and exercise can help lower stomach acid production. Lastly, changing diet can help treat PUD too. Unhealthy choices like junk food, fried food, and processed foods make it harder to heal, while whole grains, fresh produce, and fresh fruit may promote healing. 

Our experienced team at GHP can help you get the treatment you deserve for PUD. We can help you establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

5 Things to Know About Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. When someone has UC, ulcers form where inflammation has injured cells lining the colon and these ulcers eventually may bleed and create pus. This can lead to the colon needing to be emptied frequently. 

While there is no cure, healthcare professionals can help patients with Ulcerative Colitis pursue proven treatment options for managing their symptoms, and researchers continue to study the disease. Here are 5 things to know about Ulcerative Colitis. 

Causes and Risk Factors

Medical understanding of the cause of Ulcerative Colitis is limited. There are two primary causes of UC that researchers are working to understand. 

First, it could be related to your immune system. A virus or bacterium might trigger UC because of inflammation from an immune response. Some developing research may support this theory. In a recent study, Stanford researchers found that a group of patients with Ulcerative Colitis had a depleted amount of a specific family of bacteria that produces anti-inflammatory substances. 

A second possible cause of Ulcerative Colitis is related to hereditary factors. There is evidence that UC is more common in people with family histories of the disease, so family history is considered a risk factor. However, most people with the disease do not have a family history, so it is not considered a proven cause of UC. 

Types

There are several types of Ulcerative Colitis, each of which is classified by location in the digestive tract. Ulcerative Proctitis is a classification for UC where inflammation is confined to the rectum. Proctosigmoiditis is a type where inflammation occurs in the rectum and lower end of the colon. Left-sided Colitis is when inflammation extends further into the descending colon. Pancolitis is a classification for inflammation that goes beyond just the descending colon and often affects the entire colon. Lastly, Fulminant Colitis is an acute life-threatening form of UC that affects the entire colon.

Symptoms 

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis can vary by type and degree of the disease. Loose and urgent bowel movements, bloody stool, abdominal pain and cramps, and persistent diarrhea are common symptoms. Outside of the intestine, symptoms may include fever, nausea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Often times, symptoms will not be constant. Flare-ups are a common occurrence for people with UC, as are remission periods without symptoms.

Diagnosis

Patients are advised to see a medical professional if they are experiencing persistent changes in their bowel habits or other Ulcerative Colitis symptoms. When a patient is tested for UC, there are several possible approaches. Blood tests, barium enemas, CT scans, colonoscopies, and flexible sigmoidoscopies can all be used to diagnose UC. 

Treatment

Treatment for UC is focused on managing symptoms, as there is no known cure. A combination of medications and lifestyle changes is often helpful, including anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, corticosteriods, avoiding gassy foods, managing stress, and staying hydrated. If these measures do not relieve symptoms, surgery may be recommended by a doctor. Surgery typically means removing the entire colon and rectum. 

Ulcerative Colitis can often be effectively managed with professional guidance and care. GHP is dedicated to helping patients with UC manage their symptoms and live healthy, happy, and full lives. Contact any of our office locations learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates

March 26, 2020

This is our third weekly update regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Below, you will find updated facts and figures. 

Quick Facts

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March 19, 2020

This is our second weekly update regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Below, you will find updated facts and figures. 

Quick Facts

  • The coronavirus causing COVID-19 has now spread to 164 locations internationally (as of 3/18/20).
  • Confirmed cases and deaths
  • Testing: As of March 16, 89 public health labs in the United States have the capacity to test for the coronavirus. 
    • As of March 17, 4,255 specimens have been tested by CDC labs and 27,623 specimens have been tested by US public health labs. 
  • If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you may be, follow these steps
    • Stay home except to get medical care. Many people with mild symptoms will be able to recover at home. 
    • Call before going to get medical care. 
    • Avoid public transportation.
    • Separate yourself from others in your home. 
    • Limit contact with pets and animals.
    • Wear a facemask if you are sick. 
    • Cover coughs and sneezes. 
    • Clean your hands often. 
    • Clean high-touch surfaces every day. 
    • Monitor your symptoms and consult with a medical professional before receiving care. 
  • Kentucky
    • The state of Kentucky’s response to COVID-19 includes both guidelines for specific groups and Executive Orders from Governor Beshear. Here are a few highlights (see the full list here):
      • By 5pm on March 18, all public-facing businesses that can’t comply with CDC guidelines for social distancing must cease in-person operations. 
      • Restaurants and bars were ordered to close by 5pm on March 16. Food and beverage services are now restricted to carry-out, delivery, and take-out only. 
      • Primary elections have been postponed until June 23, 2020. 
      • All community gatherings are recommended to cancel or postpone.
      • All school districts were recommended to close in-person classes beginning March 16. All schools have done so and many are using e-learning technologies to continue instruction. 
      • Businesses are recommended to use telecommuting options and encourage working from home. 
      • Hospitals are recommended to cease non-elective procedures. 
  • Indiana
    • The state of Indiana’s response to COVID-19 includes both guidelines for specific groups and Executive Orders from Governor Holcomb. Here are some highlights (see the full list here):
      • Per CDC recommendations, all events with 50 or more people are advised to cancel or postpone. 
      • Restaurants and bars have been ordered to cease in-person services. Take-out and deliver services can still be provided. 
      • School districts are recommended to close. Most school districts have closed in-person learning and many are using e-learning technologies to continue instruction.
      • Hospitals are recommended to cease elective procedures. 
      • State employees are encouraged to use telecommuting options as much as possible. 
  • Resource List

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March 12, 2020

As healthcare professionals, Gastroenterology Health Partners has a responsibility to be a trusted resource on relevant health topics for our patients. We will be posting weekly updates about COVID-19 (coronavirus) from reputable sources.

In our health care facilities, we are closely following guidance from the CDC and local and state health departments to inform our healthcare practices and procedures. With such a rapidly-evolving situation, it’s important that evidence informs our decisions and behaviors. We all have a responsibility to make the best informed decisions possible:

  • Seek out trusted, evidence-based sources of information.
  • Follow appropriate guidelines based on your individual situation and context.
  • Help stop social stigma against Chinese and Asian Americans, people who have gone through proper quarantine protocols, healthcare workers, and others who may be experiencing discrimination based on group identity.

Quick Facts

  • COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus that was first detected in China at the end of 2019. The coronavirus causing COVID-19 has now spread to over 100 locations internationally.
  • Confirmed cases and deaths
  • Symptoms
    • Symptoms include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
  • How does it spread?
    • Public health officials believe the virus spreads mainly person-to-person through respiratory droplets and mostly between people in close contact with each other (around 6 feet). It may spread via surfaces, but this is not thought to be the primary method of transmission.
  • Who is at risk?
    • Early data from people in China who contracted COVID-19 shows that older adults and people with chronic medical conditions are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
  • Preventing illness
    • There is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 currently. As such, avoiding exposure to the virus is the best way to prevent illness. You should clean your hands often, avoid close contact with sick people, stay home if you are sick, cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue or your elbow, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and wear a facemask if you are sick.
  • Steps to take if you are sick
    • If you are sick and think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, and develop a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
    • In general, self-isolate at home and follow other prevention guidelines when you are sick to help prevent the spread of disease.
  • Testing for COVID-19
    • As of March 10, 78 state and local public health labs across 50 states in the United States have the capacity to test up to 75,000 people (using CDC lab kits, not including commercially-available kits).
  • Resource List