Duodenum is the first part of small intestine. It is C shaped tube almost 12 inches long extending from the lower end of stomach. The other end of duodenum continues into jejunum which is the second part of small intestine. Duodenal inflammation in medical term is called duodenitis. Since duodenum has close proximity to stomach it has to withstand the acid secreted by the stomach besides the digestive enzymes which may cause irritation. However, the most common cause for duodenal inflammation is H. pylori bacterial infection which is also responsible for gastritis.
This condition prevails in both men and women equally. The onset of duodenitis can be acute or chronic. Patient may present with pain and burning in middle of abdomen, loss of appetite, nausea, bloating and gasses etc. Duodenum inflammation treatment depends on the underlying condition. A course of antibiotics is needed to kill H. pylori infection. Acid reducing agents and change in lifestyle also helps to heal the inflamed area of duodenum.
What Causes Duodenal Inflammation?
Normally the duodenum is exposed to acidic content that is emptied into it from the stomach. But duodenum can withstand this because of the secretion of alkaline mucus from its lining.The mucus also coats the inner wall of duodenum preventing injury and irritation from the gastric juices. Further, release of bile an alkaline content from the gall bladder and water from pancreas protect the duodenum wall.
However, despite of the protective mechanism, duodenum still remains permeable to digestive juices of stomach. However, the lining of duodenum has capacity to regenerate and replace the erosion. Inflammation of duodenum can still occur when this compensatory mechanism fails due to severe damage to its inner wall.
There are several causes of duodenum inflammation; however bacteria H. pylori come first in the list. This bacteria burrows into the mucosal lining of the duodenum and damages it. As the protective barrier is damaged, the strong acids can get an excess into the inner wall causing inflammation which if left untreated for many days can result into duodenal ulcer.
Long term use of non- steroidal anti inflammatory drugs, alcohol and tobacco abuse, stress, radiation, pernicious anemia, inflammatory bowel disease are all other triggering factors for inflammation of duodenum.
Signs And Symptoms Of Duodenal Inflammation
The signs and symptoms of duodenitis are almost similar to those of gastritis and duodenal ulcer. They are as follows:
- Pain in upper middle part of abdomen. It may be dull aching or severe and burning pain.
- Loss of appetite. Patient may feel full after eating small amount of food.
- Nausea and sometimes vomiting. If the inflammation has resulted into an ulcer, patient may have dark tarry stool and coffee ground vomiting.
- Patient may complain of pain in abdomen after eating food.
- Frequent burps and belches.
- Distension of abdomen.
- Mild weight loss. It may be contributed to less amount of food intake.
Treatment Options For Duodenal Inflammation
The clinical picture of duodenitis and gastritis is almost similar, therefore for a physician it becomes difficult to pin point the condition. In such situation gastrointestinal endoscopy and biopsy provides clinching diagnosis of the disease.
Duodenitis can be easily treated with medicines and life style changes in most cases. Treatment depends on the underlying cause. As in most cases the primary reason of H. pylori infection, the doctor recommends a course of antibiotics to eradicate the microbes. Patient may have to take them for 2 to 3 weeks. At the same time acid reducing agents such as antacids and proton pump inhibitors are also prescribed to the patient.
Change in lifestyle and alteration in food also plays a major role in healing of inflamed duodenum. Patient has to quit alcohol and tobacco. He should not take steroids and NSAID’s medicines. At the same time he has to eat bland diet and avoid eating spicy food that causes irritation in the stomach and duodenum.