What are Duodenal Ulcers?

A sore or an ulcer on the duodenum (the stomach lining), where the small intestine begins is called a peptic ulcer. Since these ulcers affect the duodenum, they are also called

duodenal ulcers

. This kind of peptic ulcer has to be treated promptly in order to avoid any serious complications. There are also other kinds of peptic ulcers like gastric ulcers and oesophageal ulcers.

Who Can Suffer From Duodenal Ulcers?:

The ulceration in the duodenum is mainly associated with the use of medications like bisphosphonates, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin. These drugs lead to gastric irritation.

Another major cause for this kind of ulceration is

Helicobacter pylori infection

(a gastrointestinal infection).

The Pathophysiology:

As the name suggests, these duodenal ulcers primarily affect the duodenum’s first part. The diameter of most of these ulcers is not more than 1 cm.

These duodenal ulcers occur due to an imbalance in the protective and the aggressive factors of the stomach.

The protective factors consist of-

  • protective prostaglandins
  • bicarbonate secretion
  • mucous layer

The aggressive factors include-

  • gastric acid
  • pepzin enzyme

The imbalance causes a shift tilting the balance in favour of the aggressive factors. These aggressive factors would then interfere with the mucous layer and lead to a peptic ulcer.


In the United states alone, around 6-15 percent of the population are known to be prevalent with these ulcers. But, it has been observed that the incidence of these ulcers have been decreasing in the last 30-40 years.

These ulcers usually affect the elderly and the females are known to be more affected than males.


Although many people who possess these ulcers may go asymptomatic in their lives, the following can be the general symptoms which are observed in most sufferers-

  • sharp, burning and dull epigastric pain
  • feeling hungry
  • radiating pain (usually into the back)
  • symptoms of gastrointestinal reflux like belching and bloating
  • pain after meals and in the nights

People who rely highly on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are usually the ones who are more prone to developing

duodenal ulcers


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