Differentiating Between Peptic Ulcer Disease & Gastritis
Everybody will at some point experience the occasional indigestion or stomach upset that often leads to a couple of hours of discomfort that is either easily resolved with over-the-counter medication like antacid or on its own.
However, some of the more severe stomach lining and stomach disorders, such as peptic ulcer disease and gastritis, are more likely to develop slowly and worsen progressively unless they are detected and treated early. Such disorders may often lead to more severe problems, such as perforations, blockages, and gastric cancer.
What is gastritis?
Gastritis is an umbrella term for multiple conditions that result in the inflammation of the stomach lining. There are two key types of gastritis, acute and chronic. Acute gastritis often occurs unexpectedly and suddenly, while chronic gastritis develops gradually over time. In rare cases, gastritis does result in the development of ulcers and increases the risk of developing stomach cancer. However, gastritis is generally harmless and can improve easily with proper and early treatment.
What is peptic ulcer disease?
Peptic ulcer diseases, on the other hand, are open sores that form inside of your stomach lining (Gastric ulcers) and upper section of your small intestine (Duodenal ulcers).
Similarity in causes
Both disorders share a couple of similar causes. The two key factors of peptic ulcer disease and gastritis are H. Pylori bacterium and the consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and other painkillers.
NSAIDs are often prescribed to relieve symptoms of painful periods, colds, sprains and strains, and headaches, among other chronic or general pain. However, they also inhibit a certain enzyme production that, on normal days, protects the duodenum and stomach lining from the stomach acid and inflammation.
When the enzyme production halts, the existing protective layer protecting the duodenum and stomach is further weakened by H. Pylori bacteria. The combination of stomach acid and H. Pylori results in the irritation of the stomach lining, which leads to the development of ulcers.
Key symptoms (similarities and differences)
Gastritis does not often develop symptoms. However, when they do, the common symptoms and signs are:
- Burning or gnawing pain or ache in the upper region of the abdomen that either gets better or worse once you eat
- Bloating in the upper region of the stomach after a meal
The common symptoms and signs of peptic ulcer disease are:
- Burning abdominal pain
- Bloating and fullness which often results in excessive belching or burping
- Intolerance of food high in fat
While most of the symptoms can easily be resolved with over-the-counter pain relievers and antacids, any abdominal pain that persists for a minimum of two weeks should be treated as an alarming issue that may warrant the need for urgent medical attention.
In addition to chronic abdominal pain, other severe signs to look out for include:
- Anaemia which happens from blood loss
- Stools that are reddish or black, often as a result of dark blood
- Vomiting of blood or vomit that appears black or red
- Sudden weight loss of at least 10 per cent of normal weight over the course of a few weeks to months
- Difficulty in breathing
- Feel faint
- A drastic change in appetite
Some of these symptoms, mild or severe, also are shared with other Gastro-Intestinal issues, such as fatty liver symptoms, colon cancer symptoms, etc. Hence, visit a doctor regardless.
Diagnosis and treatment
For peptic ulcer disease and gastritis, the initial diagnosis determines the presence of H. Pylori infection. That is because if there is the presence of the infection, a different type of treatment will be administered. H. Pylori testing is usually performed with stool, breath, blood, or biopsy testing. After which the treatment process usually takes a minimum of two weeks involving a combination of antibiotics and acid-suppressing medication, such as a proton pump inhibitor.
Other than that, a gastroenterologist may perform gastroscopy, an endoscopic procedure to look through your small intestine and stomach. A tiny camera fixed on the tip of a thin yet flexible tube will be inserted down your throat, revealing any potential ulcers that may form in your oesophagus, stomach, or small intestine. There are times when instead of an endoscopic procedure, a barium swallow procedure will be conducted. This is an x-ray procedure in which you will be required to swallow a white and metallic-looking liquid that will coat your digestive tract, making any development of ulcers more visible during the x-ray.
Gastritis and peptic ulcer diseases are, generally, issues of not a major concern. However, like any disorders in our bodies, when not treated early and properly, they can develop into serious conditions down the road. Hence, it is always recommended whether you develop any symptoms, whether mild or severe, to visit your doctor or a gastroenterologist near you. GUTCARE specialises in gastroenterology, among other issues, such as hepatitis B.
For more information, visit us at https://www.gutcare.com.sg/ to check out our range of services.