Peptic (Stomach) Ulcers in Children

Peptic (Stomach) Ulcers in Children

Many individuals think that spicy foods cause peptic ulcers, but the fact is that bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (or H. pylori) are the main culprit. And while many believe that grownups in high-stress jobs are the only ones impacted, individuals of any age– even kids– can develop ulcers.

Peptic ulcers are much less common among children than grownups. Similar to adults, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria can result in the formation of peptic ulcers. Children whose parents have peptic ulcers are most likely to have ulcers, as are those whose parents smoke. Teenagers who drink alcohol or smoke are likewise most likely to develop ulcers. Children of any age can develop ulcers when they are very sick, such as after severe burns, injuries, and illnesses. These ulcers are described as stress ulcers.

About Peptic Ulcers

An ulcer is a sore, which implies it’s an open, painful wound. Peptic ulcers are ulcers that form in the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. An ulcer in the stomach is called a gastric ulcer and an ulcer in the duodenum is called a duodenal ulcer.

Both a gastric ulcer and a duodenal ulcer occur when H. pylori or a drug compromises the protective mucous coating of the stomach and duodenum, letting acid get across the delicate lining underneath. Both the acid and the bacteria can irritate the lining and cause an ulcer.

H. pylori infection is typically contracted in childhood (perhaps through food, water, or close contact with an infected person), but the majority of people won’t have any symptoms up until they’re older. Although H. pylori infection normally doesn’t cause issues in childhood, it can cause gastritis (irritation and swelling of the stomach lining), peptic ulcer disease, and even stomach cancer later in life.

In the past, having peptic ulcers meant living with a chronic condition for several years or even a lifetime. However today, a better understanding of the reason for peptic ulcers and how to treat them indicates that many people can be cured.

Causes of Peptic Ulcers in Kids

Although stress and specific foods may exacerbate an ulcer, the majority of ulcers are triggered by an H. pylori infection or making use of common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.

However, while many specialists concur that H. pylori infection is a leading reason for peptic ulcers in grownups, not all think that the bacteria are a significant culprit in youth ulcers. Some medical professionals make the distinction between duodenal ulcers, which are frequently connected with H. pylori infection, and gastric ulcers, which may stem from other causes.

It’s recognized that particular medical conditions can add to the advancement of ulcers. For example, children with severe burns can develop ulcers secondary to the stress of their injuries. This is also true for babies who become septic (really ill with a bacterial infection). In otherwise healthy kids, peptic ulcers are really unusual.

Some doctors believe that more kids get drug-related gastric ulcers than other types of peptic ulcers. Even moderate use of NSAIDs can cause intestinal issues and bleeding in some children. Acetaminophen does not cause stomach ulcers and is an excellent option to NSAIDs for the majority of youth conditions.

Peptic (Stomach) Ulcers in Children

Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers

Although peptic ulcers are uncommon in kids, if your child has any of these symptoms and signs, call your doctor:

  • burning pain in the abdominal area in between the breastbone and the belly button (the most typical ulcer symptom)
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • chest pain (generally dull and throbbing)
  • loss of appetite
  • frequent burping or hiccuping
  • weight reduction
  • feeding difficulties
  • blood in vomit or bowel movements, which may appear dark red or black

These signs and symptoms prevail in many youth diseases and do not necessarily suggest an ulcer, however they ought to be reported to your doctor. Based on your child’s medical history and symptoms, the doctor may refer your child to a pediatric gastroenterologist (a doctor who focuses on disorders of the stomach, intestines, and associated organs) for further evaluation.

Medical Diagnosis

The doctor may do an upper intestinal (GI) series to get a close look at your child’s intestinal tract. An upper GI series is a set of X-rays of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.

The doctor might likewise order an upper endoscopy, particularly if an ulcer is suspected. This procedure, carried out under sedation, includes placing an endoscope– a small, versatile tube with a tiny video camera on the end– down the throat and into the stomach and duodenum. It lets the doctor see the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum to check for possible ulcers, swelling, or food allergies. It likewise can be used to carry out tissue tests to look for H. pylori.

The endoscopy is often used with a test called a pH probe where a little wire is inserted into the lower part of the esophagus to determine the amount of acid entering into that area.

If there’s any proof of inflammation, the doctor will test for H. pylori. This test is necessary because treatment for an ulcer brought on by H. pylori is various from the treatment for an ulcer caused by NSAIDs.

H. pylori may be diagnosed through:

  • tissue tests (performed during an endoscopy)
  • blood tests (which can identify the existence of H. pylori antibodies; blood tests are simple to carry out, although a favorable test might suggest direct exposure to H. pylori in the past and not an active infection)
  • stool tests (which can spot the presence of H. pylori antigens; stool tests are becoming more typical for detecting H. pylori, and some medical professionals believe they’re more precise than blood tests)
  • breath tests (which can find carbon broken down by H. pylori after the patient consumes a solution; breath tests are likewise used mainly in grownups)

Treatment for Peptic Ulcers

The bright side is that a lot of H. pylori-related ulcers are curable with treatment that integrates two different kinds of antibiotics and an acid suppressor. The antibiotics are taken over a 1- to 2-week duration and the antacid is provided for 2 months or longer. The ulcer might take 8 weeks to recover, but the pain generally goes away after a few days or a week.

To be sure the treatment has worked, doctors might purchase a stool test to verify the absence of H. pylori. If symptoms last or become worse, doctors might do a follow-up endoscopy 6 to 12 months later to look for H. pylori.

Ulcers related to NSAID use seldom need surgery and generally improve with an acid suppressor and stopping or altering the NSAID. No antibiotics are needed to treat this kind of ulcer.

Taking care of Your Child

If your child is detected with an H. pylori-related ulcer, make certain she or he takes all the antibiotics as directed by the doctor. Even if the symptoms disappear, the infection might not be gone until all the medicine has been taken.

If your child has a medication-related ulcer, the doctor will tell you to avoid NSAIDs, including any medications which contain ibuprofen or aspirin. Likewise, be sure to provide your child the recommended acid-reducing medicine.

Unless a specific food is annoying, a lot of doctors don’t suggest dietary limitations for kids with ulcers. An excellent diet with a variety of foods is essential to all kids’ growth and advancement.

Alcohol and smoking cigarettes can aggravate an ulcer. Likewise make sure that your child prevents coffee, tea, sodas, and foods which contain caffeine, which can stimulate the secretion of acid in the stomach and might make an ulcer even worse.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor immediately if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • unexpected, sharp, lasting belly pain
  • bloody or black defecation
  • bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee premises

For a child with peptic ulcer disease, the symptoms above might suggest a serious problem, such as:

  • perforation (when the ulcer becomes unfathomable and breaks through the stomach or duodenal wall)
  • bleeding (when acid or the ulcer breaks a blood vessel)
  • obstruction (when the ulcer obstructs the path of food from going through the intestinal tracts)

If your child is taking NSAIDs and reveals symptoms of peptic ulcer disease, get timely medical aid. Postponing medical diagnosis and treatment can lead to complications and, potentially, the requirement for surgery. But with timely treatment, almost all peptic ulcers can be treated.

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