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Acid Reflux / Ulcers
Peptic ulcers are sores on the lining of the stomach or of the duodenum. Acid reflux refers to the abdominal discomfort when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly and the stomach contents are allowed to flow back or reflux into the esophagus. The main symptoms are persistent heartburn (burning sensation in the chest or throat) and acid regurgitation.
Almost all stomach ulcers are caused by either an infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) or by the use of pain medications called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. NSAID-induced ulcers can be cured with time, stomach protective medication, antacids and avoidance of NSAIDs. H. pylori-related ulcers can be cured with antibiotics, used in combination with acid blockers. In some patients stress and spicy foods may aggravate ulcers, but they are not a cause of them.
GERD may be treated with lifestyle changes, surgery and medications like H2-blockers (e.g. Zantac/ranitidine, famotidine), PPIs/proton-pump inhibitors (e.g. Aciphex/rabeprazole, Nexium/esomeprazole). In case of H. pylori positive ulcers, these medications are used in combination with antibiotics (e.g. Biaxin/clarithromycin, amoxicillin, Flagyl/metronidazole). Depending on your symptoms and test results, your doctor will decide on the best course of action.