Peptic Ulcer Disease

Peptic ulcer disease, while often considered a condition that affects adults, also can affect children and teens. The board-certified pediatric gastroenterologists with Norton Children’s Gastroenterology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, provide specialized gastrointestinal(GI) care for children with peptic ulcer disease.

What Is a Peptic Ulcer?

A peptic ulcer is an open sore in the stomach lining or duodenum (part of the small intestine). When located in the stomach, the peptic ulcer is called a gastric ulcer. When located in the duodenum, it’s called a duodenal ulcer.

Children of any age can develop a peptic ulcer. Without treatment, the ulcer can cause serious complications that may include:

  • Bleeding: The lining of the stomach or duodenal wall begins to erode, and blood vessels can become damaged, causing bleeding
  • Perforation: A hole can develop in the stomach or duodenum wall. This can cause bacteria and half-digested food to spill through the hole into the sterile abdominal cavity.
  • Narrowing and obstruction: Swelling and scarring can occur, which could narrow or close the intestinal opening.

Peptic Ulcer Symptoms

Peptic ulcer symptoms can include:

  • Aching or burning pain between the belly button (navel) and the breastbone
  • Anemia
  • Back pain
  • Belching
  • Bloating or nausea after eating
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Pain that goes away for a while after taking an antacid or acid reducer
  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting blood or a substance that looks like coffee grounds
  • Stool that looks black or contains dark red blood
  • Weight loss

Peptic Ulcer Treatment

Treatment for peptic ulcers is based on a child’s age, current health and extent of the condition. The pediatric gastroenterologists with Norton Children’s Gastroenterology will work with you and your child to create a unique treatment plan. Peptic ulcer treatment can include:

  • Lifestyle changes: While no particular diet is suggested for peptic ulcers, families may notice that certain foods can affect their child’s condition. If this happens, talk to your child’s gastroenterologist. Smoking can affect peptic ulcers as well.
  • Medicines: Peptic ulcers can be treated with a variety of medicines, including antibiotics, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors and mucosal protective agents.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be needed if a child does not respond to other treatments.

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