There are a number of common gastrointestinal conditions, disorders and diseases that may cause problems. These include:

Stomach and duodenal ulcers and Helicobacter pylori

A peptic ulcer is an ulcer that develops in the lining of the stomach (gastric ulcer) or the duodenum (duodenal ulcer). The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is burning or gnawing pain in the centre of the abdomen. Up to 90% of ulcers are associated with Helicobacter pylori, a spiral-shaped bacterium that lives in the acidic environment of the stomach; ulcers can also be caused or worsened by medication such as aspirin and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

H.pylori can be detected by urease breath, stool antigen or CLO test and also histologically from biopsies obtained at gastroscopy. Treatment of H.pylori associated peptic ulcers involves taking specific antibiotics (eradication therapy) for 7 to 14 days and starting proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for 6-8 weeks to induce healing. A 2nd gastroscopy may be necessary to ensure that a gastric ulcer has fully healed (if it has not then this can indicate malignancy). Ulcer complications are uncommon but can be serious and include internal bleeding, perforation and malignancy.

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