Reflux And Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD)

What is heartburn?
Heartburn or acid reflux, which affects about 4 out of 10 people, is a burning pain behind your breastbone, caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat. The pain is often worse after eating, in the evening, or when lying down or bending over and it can have a negative impact on your quality of life. If it keeps happening regularly, it’s called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
What is peptic ulcer disease (PUD)?
Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the lining of the stomach (stomach ulcers) or in part of the intestine just beyond the stomach (duodenal ulcers). The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is a burning or gnawing pain in the centre of the abdomen (tummy), and some people may experience other symptoms, such as indigestion, heartburn & nausea or vomiting. Sometimes stomach ulcers aren’t painful and are only noticed when a complication of a stomach ulcerdevelops, such as bleeding from the ulcer.
Management of reflux and peptic ulcer disease (PUD)
As well as over-the-counter medications, lifestyle changes can help to ease your heartburn.
These include:
  • Maintaining a healthy weight – excess weight can put pressure on your stomach and cause acid to back up into your oesophagus (food pipe)
  • Avoiding tightfitting clothing – also puts pressure on your stomach
  • Avoiding foods that trigger your heartburn
  • Avoiding eating late at night
  • Avoiding large meals, rather eat more small meals throughout the day
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol
  • Avoiding lying down immediately after a meal – wait at least 3 hours
  • Raising the head of your bed if you often experience heartburn at night
Speak to a Medicare healthcare professional about our 3-step plan for dousing heartburn
  1. Antacids help neutralise stomach acid and can provide quick relief.
  2. Proton pump inhibitors, which decrease stomach acid. They don’t act as quickly as antacids but may give longer relief.
  3. Find out if you have a Helicobacter pylori infection by having a finger prick blood test? If your test is positive, the Medicare nursing sister can refer you to one of our doctors for a VideoMed consultation.
What is a Helicobacter pylori infection?
  1. Helicobacter pylori (or H. pylori) is a type of bacteria that can infect the stomach and is a common cause of peptic ulcers.
  2. pylori infections can be very effectively treated with what is commonly known as triple therapy i.e. a combination of two different antibiotics and an acid-suppressing drug to help your stomach lining heal.
When does heartburn need a closer look?
Sometimes the symptoms of heartburn do not line up with the severity of the reflux. Chronic untreated reflux can cause ulcers and other medical problems if left untreated.
Make an appointment to see your doctor if you have any of these “red flags”:
  • Lifestyle changes and pharmacy medicines aren’t helping
  • You have heartburn most days for 3 weeks or more
  • You have other symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, frequent nausea and/or vomiting, weight loss
  • Your stools are bloody or black and thick like tar
  • You are vomiting bloody or black vomit or if your vomit looks like coffee grounds
  • You have tested positive for a H. pylori infection
Your doctor may send you for a gastroscopy especially if s/he suspects that you may have stomach ulcer or chronic acid reflux (or GORD)
The procedure involves passing a thin, flexible tube with a camera at one end (an endoscope) into your mouth and down into your stomach and the first section of the small intestine (duodenum).