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Duodenitis: Care Instructions

The duodenum and its location in the body


The duodenum (say "doo-AW-duh-num") is the first part of the small intestine. It connects to the stomach. It's about 25 cm (10 in.) long and curved, almost forming a circle.

Duodenitis (say "doo-aw-duh-NY-tus") may feel like an upset stomach. It happens when something irritates the lining of the duodenum. Many things can cause it. These include an infection or something you ate or drank. Certain medicines or having a sore (ulcer) on the lining of the duodenum also can cause it. Your belly may bloat and ache. You may belch, vomit, and feel sick to your stomach.

You should be able to relieve the problem by taking medicine. And it may help to change your diet. If the problem lasts, your doctor may prescribe different medicine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Be safe with medicines. If your doctor prescribed medicine to decrease stomach acid, take it as directed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Do not take any other medicine, including over-the-counter pain relievers, without talking to your doctor first.
  • If your doctor recommends over-the-counter medicine to reduce stomach acid, such as Pepcid AC (famotidine) or Losec (omeprazole), follow the directions on the label.
  • To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. Choose water and other clear liquids until you feel better. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink.
  • Avoid coffee, tea, cola drinks, chocolate, and other foods with caffeine. They increase stomach acid.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe belly pain.
  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • Your stools are maroon or very bloody.

Call your doctor or nurse call now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or feel like you may faint.
  • You have trouble breathing or are breathing faster and passing only a little urine.
  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You have a new or higher fever.
  • You have signs of dehydration, such as:
    • Dry eyes and a dry mouth.
    • Passing only a little urine.
    • Feeling thirstier than usual.
  • You have nausea or vomiting and can't keep fluids down.
  • You cannot pass stools or gas.
  • You have new or more blood in your stools or your stools are black and tar-like.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have new or worse symptoms.
  • You are losing weight.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.