Peptic ulcers are often caused by an overproduction of gastric acid. Many treatment options focus on reducing or suppressing gastric acid production. If your doctor determines that you have an H. pylori infection, you will need treatment for that as well.
The goal of treatment for peptic ulcer disease is to:
- Relieve symptoms
- Heal lesions
- Prevent recurrences
- Prevent complications
Treatments for peptic ulcer disease include:
Sometimes, treatment leads to complications.
Peptic Ulcer Disease Treatment: Medication
Several different medication therapies are available to help reduce gastric acid and coat the ulcers:
- Antacids neutralize gastric acid. The disadvantage is that you need to take a relatively large dose for them to be effective, and they can cause unwanted side effects like diarrhea.
- Histamine (H2) blockers reduce gastric acid by blocking the H2 receptors. These medications decrease acid secretion and are a relatively safe treatment option.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are drugs that block the three major pathways for acid production. PPIs suppress acid production much more effectively than H2 blockers. PPIs are the gold standard in medication therapy of peptic ulcer disease.
- Medications to protect and strengthen the mucous lining of the stomach
- Antibiotics to treat H. pylori if it is detected
See animation: mechanism of normal acid production, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibiting drugs.
Peptic Ulcer Disease Complications
The three major complications of peptic ulcer disease treatment are:
- Hemorrhage (excessive bleeding)
- Perforation/penetration, due to the ulcer burning through the stomach wall
- Gastric outlet obstruction, or pyloric stenosis, occurs when the pylorus narrows. The pylorus is the opening from the stomach into the small intestine.
There are a number of options available to treat these complications, including endoscopic therapy.
See illustration: endoscopic therapy procedure