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Disorders caused by gastric hyperacidity and their treatment

Only part of the disorders usually defined as gastric ulcer truly is gastric ulcer. The ulcerous lesion involving the intestinal segment following the stomach, the duodenum (proximal intestine) is five times more common. Essentially it is true for both disorders that, either the amount of acid is too high, or the protective barrier of the mucosa is too weak, thus the balance is disrupted, and the gastric acid damages the mucosa-

The precipitating factors

Stress is primarily responsible for gastric hyperacidity. The most important side effect of the so called non-steroid anti-inflammatory agents, favorably taken for back, waist, and other musculoskeletal pain, is causing gastric mucosa damage. The Helicobacter pylori bacteria may also cause ulcer, though it is estimated the two third of the population worldwide is infected with the pathogen. However, the majority lives just fine with it, and only 5-10 percent of the infected is suffering from ulcer. At the same time, 90-95 percent of ulcer patients are infected with H.pylori.

Helicobacter detection techniques:

  • From exhaled air: The patient swallows a capsule on an empty stomach. If the bacteria is present in the stomach, it breaks down the content of the capsule. The metabolized product is absorbed and secreted in only 10-15 minutes in the lungs. Air will be exhaled into a small bag, until the colored mark on the examination test changes /1-4 minutes/. This test-bag will be placed into the measuring device.
  • Histological examination: The gastric sample obtained by endoscopic examination is treated with a special staining, which allows the visualization of bacteria during the microscopic evaluation. Though patients would rather avoid endoscopy and prefer to choose the sniffling method, endoscopy still has its benefits, since it visualizes alterations, and allows performing interventions, and histological evaluation.
  • Serological examination: (not sufficient to start treatment) Test performed from saliva or blood, which is easy and quick to carry out, but not exact and not specific. Its biggest disadvantage is, that it is not demonstrating the actual state of bacteria infection, but refers to the past half to one year.

Complaints and symptoms

The so called hunger-pain is characteristic for the duodenum ulcer, meaning that the patient wakes up in pain in the middle of the night or morning, which resolves after consuming even just a little snack. While the duodenum ulcer affects mainly the younger generation, gastric ulcer is more common after the age of fifty, and is characterized by pain after eating. In case of gastric ulcer complaints, cancer necessarily has to be ruled out with the proper investigational methods (meaning: gastroscopy and histological sampling). In certain cases, ulcer develops symptom-free, the first sign being a severe complication, like gastric puncturation or bleeding.

Ulcer treatment

Diet used to be considered especially important in the treatment of ulcer, however, nowadays the practical usefulness of these schemes diminished. Coffee, smoking for sure doesn’t do good, as well as carbonated soda, which may also worsen complaints. Acid-binding agents are also considered out of date, whereas meds building a thin barrier on top of the mucosa, thus protecting from effects of acid, are widely used. State of the art are the so called proton-pump inhibitors, which- as their denomination suggests- prevent the H+ ions, responsible for the acidic ph, from dissolving into the stomach. Additionally, the eradication of the “helicopter-bacteria” using antibiotics may also be necessary.

Reflux, GERD

Reflux also belongs to this group of acidic disorders, defined as regurgitation of gastric acid into the esophagus. This is caused by the distension of the pit of the stomach (the cardia), the diaphragm not properly occluding in the area where the esophagus passes into the stomach.

The leading symptom is heartburn, but the regurgitation of gastric fluid when bending forward can also occur, as well as bad taste in the mouth or acidic belching. Moreover, acidity may be the cause of many other symptoms of a completely different kind, for example chronic coughing, middle ear or paranasal sinus inflammation and asthma. The reason behind it is the regurgitated acid reaching the respiratory tracts and damaging their mucosa. GERD might even play a role in caries formation.

Treatment

Similarly to gastric and duodenal ulcer treatment, gastric-reducing agents are administered, and the so called pro-kinetic extracts may be used as well, having the effect of catalyzing the emptying of the stomach. Weight loss is also useful, thus reducing the intra-abdominal pressure, as well as eating small amount several times a day, the comfortable, not too tight dress, and we can also elevate the head-end of the bed.