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What Causes Duodenum Pain?

By Glyn Sinclair
Updated: May 17, 2024

The duodenum is the first section of the small intestine. It reaches from the pylorus near the bottom of the stomach to the second part of the small intestine, or jejunum, and is considered to be part of the upper stomach. There are a few reasons for duodenum pain; however, one of the most common causes is an ulcer in the duodenum, or duodenal ulcer. Peptic ulcers will often form in the duodenum and can be the cause of quite severe pain. An ulcer is a sore inside or outside the body that fails to heal.

An obstruction in this part of the stomach can sometimes be the reason for duodenum pain. This can occur when an untreated peptic ulcer scars and narrows the stomach passageway. This occurrence is rare, however, because treatment usually heals these stubborn ulcers before reaching that critical condition. When it does happen, however, it can potentially block the passage of food out of the stomach. Some of the symptoms of this include indigestion and vomiting.

Part of the way the stomach and the duodenum serve to digest food is by releasing a flow of strong chemicals. This can also lead to indigestion problems and pain. Bloating and nausea can accompany this condition. Ulcers are usually the culprit, but sometimes there is no identifiable underlying reason. This is called functional indigestion and it can be made worse by drinking alcohol and smoking.

Indigestion and duodenum pain can also be made worse by stress and worry. If the condition is persistent and accompanied by vomiting and blood in the stool or vomit, it is recommended that the patient be examined by a doctor immediately. If pain in the left arm and jaw, as well shortness of breath and sweating are experienced at the same time as the indigestion and pain, these could also be symptoms of heart disease and should be seen by a doctor.

Another potential cause of duodenum pain can be helicobacter pylori, or H pylori. This is a bacteria found in the stomach and is sometimes associated with ulcers. The symptoms of H pylori can include a burning sensation in the region of the stomach and duodenum. Doctors will typically treat this condition with an antibiotic combination and it can take up to three weeks before the symptoms subside. With both H pylori and peptic ulcers, it is recommended that the patient avoids drinking coffee, smoking, alcohol, and nonsteroidal drugs such as aspirin.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By bluedolphin — On Jun 08, 2013

Can we differentiate between the different types of duodenum pain and the possible causes?

I'm not an expert in any sense of the word, but I think that sharp pain that comes and goes points to ulcers whereas chronic aching points to inflammation and possibly tumor.

Am I right? Do we have any medical professionals or patients here that can clarify this?

By fify — On Jun 07, 2013

@burcidi-- Have you spoken to your doctor? It's not possible to know the cause of this pain without medical testing. If your doctor also feels that the symptoms point to ulcers, he will request an endoscopy.

I had problems with my duodenum as well. There is a valve between the stomach and duodenum that keeps the contents of the intestines out of the stomach and the contents of the stomach out of the intestines. My valve wasn't closing properly and so the acid from the stomach was seeping into my duodenum and causing irritation and inflammation there. I didn't know that this was the cause of my duodenum pain until I had an endoscopy though. I had surgery to fix the valve and have not had pain since.

By burcidi — On Jun 07, 2013

I think I have ulcers. I've been suffering from acid reflux disease for quite some time. I'm used to stomach acidity and cramps, but recently, I've had pain lower down from my stomach. It seems to be located near or at the duodenum. I'm worried.

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