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The duodenum is an important component of the digestive system, as it connects the stomach and the small intestine. If this area becomes irritated and enlarged, the whole digestive process may be disturbed and the body's iron absorption suffers. Irritation caused by agents such as acid, drugs, or trauma cause many instances of duodenum inflammation. Infections also pose a risk for this digestive body part. Advanced cases with other symptoms may signal a more serious and chronic underlying condition like Crohn's Disease or tumors.
Acid is one of the strongest substances in nature. When this material is found in the stomach, it is especially intense because it must break down food and aid in digestion. If stomach acid seeps into neighboring areas with more sensitive linings than the stomach, the harsh acid can have an adverse effect. This effect often occurs in the esophagus as well as the duodenum, leading to inflammation.
An individual’s own actions can also lead to inflammation of the duodenum. Namely, certain drugs can damage the duodenum. Perhaps ironically, this effect is often produced by medication meant to combat inflammation. Some evidence suggests that stress may further worsen inflammatory conditions. Traumatic injury can cause similar damaging effects.
Infection — particularly bacterial infection — is a cause of many inflammation cases, and inflammation of the duodenum is no exception. Specifically, a bacteria called H. Pylori has been indicted as a frequent digestive system assailant. The duodenum is a favorite spot of this bacteria because the environment allows secretion of a protective enzyme for the bacteria.
Structural abnormalities may occasionally cause inflammation of the duodenum as well. The cap that separates the intestine from the stomach is mostly susceptible to abnormalities. When such abnormalities occur, aggravating spasms and acid leaking can occur.
In some cases, duodenum inflammation may be part of a broader overall digestive disorder. The bowel inflammation condition Crohn's Disease attacks the lining and tissues of various areas of the digestive tract, from the colon to the duodenum. Accompanying symptoms might include the following: stomach pain, lack of appetite, diarrhea, weight loss, fever, and bloody stools. Researchers theorize that a combination of genetics and faulty immune system responses play a hand in this condition's development. Infectious agents may even cause immune cells to mistakenly attack normal cells in the digestive tract.
Chronic inflammation of the duodenum can result in ulcers, which are raw areas in the digestive tract. While acute inflammation may not have any symptoms, ulcers can cause internal bleeding and stomach pain. In rare cases, the inflammation and subsequent ulcers may be indicative of a tumor.
Treating inflammation of the duodenum typically consists of two distinctly different approaches: medication administration or medication removal. If internal agents are behind the condition, then drugs like bacteria-fighting antibiotics or acid-reducing antacids are popular treatment options. Suspect medications, however, must usually be removed from the treatment protocol.