Duodenitis | Digestive Health Program | Loyola Medicine

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Overview and Facts about Duodenitis

Duodenitis is inflammation in the duodenum, which is the first or most upper portion of the small intestine, located just below your stomach. After food is processed in the stomach, the food moves down through the pyloric sphincter and into the duodenum. Thus, individuals with duodenitis may experience discomfort during or after meals. Duodenitis can affect the digestive health of men, women, and children.

Symptoms and Signs of Duodenitis

The most common symptom of duodenitis is pain or feelings of fullness in the upper abdomen below the stomach. In severe cases, sores called peptic ulcers may appear in the duodenum. In children, gastritis (inflammation or irritation of the stomach lining) is a common symptom.

Other symptoms include:

  • Excessive gas
  • Indigestion
  • Iron deficiency (anemia)
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Vomiting

Causes and Risk Factors of Duodenitis

Bacterial infections, such as Helicobacter pylori infection, and overuse of pain medications, such as aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are associated with duodenitis. Individuals who regularly consume foods that promote inflammation or stomach irritation are also at risk of developing duodenitis.

Other risk factors associated with duodenitis include:

  • Abdominal injuries within or near the duodenum
  • Alcohol use or abuse
  • Diseases of the gastrointestinal system, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Excessive stomach acid production
  • Hospitalization with poor nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Viral infection that affects the gastrointestinal system

Tests and Diagnosis of Duodenitis

Endoscopy is a common procedure used to diagnose duodenitis. A tissue sample of the duodenum may be removed for closer examination under a microscope to look for signs of inflammation. Tissue samples are also examined to rule out Helicobacter pylori infection.

Treatment and Care for Duodenitis

Diet and lifestyle changes, such as a reduced consumption or elimination of foods that cause stomach irritation or inflammation, are sometimes effective at relieving symptoms of duodenitis. Medications that reduce stomach acid production, such as proton pump inhibiting drugs, may also be effective when taken for several consecutive weeks. In cases of duodenitis with Helicobacter pylori infection, antibiotic treatments are necessary to relieve symptoms.