HealthSheets™


Duodenitis

The duodenum is the first part of the small intestine. It's just past the stomach. Duodenitis is inflammation of the lining of the duodenum. This sheet tells you more about this health problem.

Causes of duodenitis

The most common cause of duodenitis is infection by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)bacteria. You can also get this health problem if you:

  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, for a long time

  • Have celiac disease, an allergy to gluten

  • Have Crohn's disease

  • Drink alcohol

  • Smoke

 

Symptoms of duodenitis

The condition may cause no symptoms. If symptoms do happen, you may have:

  • Burning, cramping, or hunger-like pain in your stomach

  • Gas or a bloated feeling

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • A full feeling soon after starting a meal

Diagnosing duodenitis

If your healthcare provider thinks you have duodenitis, you may have these tests to make sure:

  • Upper endoscopy with biopsy. During this test, a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on the end (endoscope) is used. Your healthcare provider moves the scope down your throat to the stomach and into the duodenum. The scope sends images of the duodenum to a video screen. Small samples (biopsy) of the lining of the duodenum may be taken. These samples may be sent to a lab for testing for H. pylori.

  • Blood, stool, gastric biopsy, or breath test. These tests can check for H. pylori or other germs. Samples of blood or stool are taken and tested in a lab. Blood tests can also check for celiac disease. For a breath test, you swallow a harmless compound. If H. pylori bacteria are in your body, extra carbon dioxide gas can then be found in your breath.

  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series (in rare cases). This test can give more information about the digestive tract. It takes X-rays of the upper GI tract from the mouth to the small intestine.

Treating duodenitis

If you have duodenitis, one or more of these treatments may help:

  • Taking antibiotic medicines to kill H. pylori

  • Taking medicines to reduce the amount of acid the stomach makes

  • Not taking NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. But if you take aspirin for a health problem, such as heart disease or stroke, do not stop until you check with your healthcare provider. If you take NSAIDs for arthritis or pain, check with your healthcare provider about other choices.

  • Adopting a gluten-free diet if celiac disease is the cause

  • Not drinking alcohol

  • Stopping smoking

Your healthcare provider can tell you more about what treatments are needed.

Recovery and follow-up

With treatment, most cases of duodenitis go away. In rare cases, duodenitis can be an ongoing (chronic) problem. Or it can turn into a duodenal ulcer. If your symptoms do not get better or they go away and come back, tell your healthcare provider. In such cases, checkups and treatments are needed to handle the health problem. 

When to call the healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher, or as advised by your healthcare provider

  • Chills

  • Nausea or vomiting (vomit may be bloody or look like coffee grounds)

  • Dark, tarry, or bloody stools

  • Sudden or severe stomach pain

  • Pain that does not improve with treatment

  • Rapid weight loss

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