Can Duodenal Ulcers Cause Weight Loss

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Duodenal ulcers, open sores developing in the lining of the duodenum, could be very bothersome and painful a lot during flare-up. The most classic symptom of the disease, abdominal pain, usually gets worse when something irritates /hurts the open sore. Since it affects your digestive system, can the disease cause weight loss?

First off, when is weight loss considered abnormal?

Sudden, unintentional weight loss can occur for various reasons. Although many times it’s a consequence of stressful events (divorce, changing jobs, or redundancy for examples), it could also be a sign of a particular medical condition!

It’s perfectly normal to experience changes in weight after a stressful event. In such a case, weight will usually return once your stress relieves, feel happier, or when you have had time to get used to your situation.

How much pounds of weight loss are a concern?

It’s not always easy to figure out when your weight loss is something for concern. Even though if your weight fluctuates, this doesn’t mean that it is definitely abnormal. In fact, weight can also normally fluctuate from week to week.

As long as the fluctuation is not significant and it occurs regularly, there should be nothing worry. But the story is different if you lose weight significantly (especially in a short amount of time). The next question, how much weight loss is abnormal?

According to NHS, unintentional weight loss should be a cause for concern when you lose more than 5 percent of your body weight over 6-12 months [1]. This is particularly true if the problem is followed with unusual symptoms such as appetite loss, fatigue, changes in bowel movements, or an increase in infections.

Conditions that cause unintentional weight loss

A number of health conditions can factor into noticeable, unintentional weight loss. Some of the most common ones include thyroid disorders, psychological problems (such as depression), eating disorders, and even cancers.

In less common cases, the problem probably is associated with the following conditions:

  1. Certain medications. Some cause side effects that might affect your appetite, leading to weight loss.
  2. Problems of the heart, liver, and kidneys.
  3. Undiagnosed diabetes, Addison’s disease (a problem affecting adrenal glands), or other diseases that affect the balance of certain hormones in the body.
  4. Chronic long-term inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  5. Infections such as tuberculosis, HIV and AIDs.

Anything that affects the way of how your body processes the food may also affect your weight. These include swallowing problem (dysphagia), dental problems, and problems of digestive system (e.g. celiac disease and gastroenteritis). How about duodenal ulcers?

Duodenal ulcer and changes in weight

Naturally, the stomach secretes a strong acid called ‘hydrochloric acid’ to help digest foods. This stomach acid plays a role to stimulate the activation of pepsin (digestive enzyme), stimulate a signal of when the food can go to the small intestine from the stomach as well as chemical signaling the more secretion of pancreas enzymes, and also to help fight against ‘bad’ bacteria in the stomach that came down with the food [2].

Even too low stomach acid level may contribute to poor absorption of your dietary protein and some key minerals. Now you understand that acid is actually required in your digestive system.

While stomach acid is essential for various purposes, it can also hurt the stomach lining. That’s why your stomach and duodenum is protected by a thick barrier from mucus layer. But this protective barrier can also get broken and damaged, resulting in inflammation or open sore (ulcer).

Duodenal ulcers can be attributed by several factors. The main ones are infection caused by Helicobacter Pylori bacteria and excessive use of inflammatory medications (aspirin or NSAIDs). Lifestyle factors (e.g. cigarette smoking, stress, and alcohol) can also increase the risk of developing the disease.

Abdominal discomfort, especially burning pain, is common with duodenal ulcers. The pain may also occur with other symptoms of the disease such as nausea, indigestion, and bloating (feeling very full after eating). How about weight loss?

Duodenal ulcers cause abdominal discomforts that may affect your appetite, causing changes in weight. But this could be weight loss or even weight gain!

Certain foods can worsen stomach ulcers. This restriction probably is worrying you, making you eat fewer foods than usual and eventually you’re likely to lose weight.

But this is slightly different for duodenal ulcers. While the common culprits such as spicy, fatty, and acidic foods can cause negative reaction – eating foods, as long as they’re OK for the balance of the stomach acid level, may improve duodenal ulcer symptoms [3].

As a result, sometimes people with duodenal ulcers probably are likely to eat more foods to soothe the symptoms. That’s why they may have a weight gain. Still, abdominal discomforts associated with the disease can also affect their appetite, consequently leading to weight loss. This suggests that changes in weight caused by duodenal ulcers may vary from patient to patient.

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