Stomach and Duodenal Ulcers

If your child has an ulcer, he has an open sore or lesion usually found on the skin or mucous membrane. An ulcer in the lining of the stomach or duodenum is referred to as a peptic ulcer.

  • A peptic ulcer located in the stomach is known as a gastric ulcer.
  • A peptic ulcer located in the duodenum is called a duodenal ulcer.

What causes gastric and duodenal ulcers?

In the past, lifestyle factors, such as stress and diet, were believed to cause ulcers. More recently, research has shown that stomach acids contribute to ulcers. Research also shows that ulcers can develop as a result of an infection caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). While all of these factors play a role in why your child may have an ulcer, H. pylori is most likely to be the cause.

Are there other contributing factors?

  • Emotional stress is no longer thought to be a cause of ulcers; people who have ulcers often report that emotional stress increases ulcer pain.
  • Physical stress may increase the risk of developing ulcers.
  • Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium — also known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — make the stomach vulnerable to the harmful effects of the digestive fluids hydrochloric acid and pepsin.

What are some complications from ulcers?

Without proper treatment, children with ulcers may experience serious complications. The most common problems include:

  • Bleeding: As the lining of the stomach or duodenal wall is eroded, blood vessels may also be damaged, causing bleeding.
  • Perforation: Sometimes a hole has worn through the wall of the stomach or duodenum, and bacteria and partially digested food can spill through the opening into the sterile abdominal cavity (peritoneum).
  • Narrowing and obstruction: Ulcers located at the end of the stomach (where the duodenum is attached) can cause swelling and scarring, which can narrow or close the intestinal opening.

What are the symptoms of gastric and duodenal ulcers?

Although ulcers don't always cause symptoms, the most common ulcer symptom is a gnawing or burning pain in the abdomen between the breastbone and the navel. The pain often occurs between meals and in early in the morning. It may last from a few minutes to a few hours. Less common ulcer symptoms include:

  • belching
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • poor appetite
  • loss of weight
  • feeling tired and weak