Your duodenum makes up the first part of your small intestine, and its job is to kickstart the digestive process by combining enzymes with food as it passes through. Since all food must pass through the duodenum during the digestive process, it’s easy to see how a problem with the area could become a significant health issue. One of the more common issues that develops in the area is called duodenitis, and it’s characterized by inflammation in the duodenum. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the condition and explain how Dr. Bhatti and his team can help you treat it.
What Causes Duodenitis?
Unlike joint inflammation, which can be caused by years of stress and movement, the duodenum typically doesn’t become inflamed unless a more abnormal force is playing a role. For example, the most common cause of duodenitis is as a result of the presence of the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria. This bacteria disrupts the mucus barrier that protects the sensitive lining of the duodenum from stomach acid. If bacteria breaks down this protective covering, inflammation can develop. Left untreated, this inflammation can become chronic or lead to the formation of duodenal ulcers.
Other issues that can cause or increase your risk factor for duodenitis include:
- Long term NSAID use
- Complications associated with Crohn’s disease
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Certain medications
Symptoms that suggest you may be dealing with duodenitis include stomach cramping, gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting, localized pain or a loss in appetite.
Diagnosing and Treating Duodenitis
If you are presenting with symptoms that point to duodenitis, head to a gastroenterologist’s office. They’ll ask you about your symptoms and review your health history, and depending on what they discover, they may move forward with a diagnostic test. An upper endoscopy with biopsy is one such test that involves placing a small, flexible tube with a light and camera attached to it down your throat, through the stomach and into the duodenum. A video relay can provide a picture of what the site looks like, and biopsy samples can allow for lab testing to look for the presence of H. pylori. A similar test for H. pylori can be conducted using a blood, breath or stool sample.
Treatment really depends on the underlying cause of duodenitis. If inflammation is being caused by the H. pylori bacteria, treatment may be as simple as a medication regimen to control the outbreak. Other potential treatments include medication to limit the amount or strength of stomach acid that could be disturbing the duodenal lining, weaning off an NSAID regimen or avoiding alcohol and giving up smoking. For the vast majority of patients, conservative care through these lifestyle tweaks often resolves the issue. However, if the condition has led to ulcer development, a minimally invasive corrective procedure may become necessary.
If you believe your duodenum could be at the heart of your health issues, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today for a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan.