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What is Duodenitis?

By Caitlin Kenney
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Duodenitis is swelling in the duodenum, or the upper segment of the small intestine. This inflammation usually appears with other conditions in the abdomen, such as hepatitis, dyspepsia, or gastritis. Dyspepsia is abdominal pain after eating and gastritis is swelling in the lining of the stomach. Symptoms of duodenitis include abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, indigestion, bloody vomit, black stools, diarrhea, and other abdominal symptoms that might accompany associated abdominal disorders. Inflammation of the intestine can occur for several reasons and is treated according to the cause.

As the first segment of the small intestine, the duodenum connects directly with the stomach. Partially digested food and some of the stomach's fluids pass from the stomach into the small intestine to be further broken down and absorbed. Because of the organs' close relationship and proximity, issues with the stomach can easily irritate the duodenum.

One of the most common causes for duodenal inflammation begins in an infection of the stomach with bacteria called Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori. Though this bacteria infects roughly half of the global population, it often presents no symptoms. In certain cases, however, the infection can contribute to the development of stomach and intestinal ulcers, gastritis, and stomach cancer. Gastritis is inflammation of the lining of the stomach, a condition that often accompanies duodenitis.

Duodenitis can also be caused by an adverse reaction to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as indomethacin, ibuprofen, ketoprofin, and peroxicam. These drugs irritate the lining of the stomach and inhibit the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins protect the lining of the stomach and intestine by increasing protective mucus secretions and decreasing digestive acid secretions. The chances of a noticeable irritation in the stomach or duodenitis rise with larger doses and longer durations of use. Duodenitis is also linked to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which caustic bile from the patient’s stomach escapes into the esophagus; gall bladder inflammation; viral infections; gastrointestinal hemorrhage; low blood flow to the intestines; Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, which causes excess acid production; and Crohn’s disease, which causes intestinal inflammation for unknown reasons.

This condition is typically diagnosed through reviewing symptoms and a procedure called endoscopy, in which a tiny camera is inserted into the body to get a live picture of the internal organs. Treatments for duodenitis range based on the cause of the swelling. Physicians may ask patients to discontinue the use of NSAIDS or put the patient on antibiotics if the swelling is the result of a bacterial infection. A physician might also recommend medications that reduce acid production, such as proton pump inhibitors, or drugs that protect the lining of the stomach and intestines, such as sucralfate. Patients should see a doctor immediately if they have bloody stool or vomit or if symptoms become severe or chronic.

The Health Board 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 anon994966 — On Mar 21, 2016

My 10 year old granddaughter was recently diagnosed with active Duodenitis, via endoscopy. This was done to affirm her recent diagnosis of Celiac Disease, have your doctor test you for gluten. It is proven to be the culprit of a lot of stomach disorders

By anon992289 — On Aug 28, 2015

I am suffering with duodenal bulb diffuse hyperemia. Please let me know about a cure.

By anon355369 — On Nov 15, 2013

I just found out a year after I had an endoscopy performed that I had been diagnosed with "mild active duodenitis" but was never told about it. I only just found out today because the hospital has a new computer system that allow patients to look at their test results, schedule doctor appointments, renew prescriptions, review up-coming appointments, etc. I had been experiencing horrific pain in the pit of my stomach after taking meloxicam for shoulder pain a year and a half ago.

I started having horrific stomach pain and nausea after taking meloxicam and met with my gastro specialist's physician's assistant regarding the pain. I subsequently had the endoscopy and was only told that everything was completely normal and that I had GERD which I already knew I had, because I've had GERD for years. I was never told about the "mild active duodenitis" that showed up in the endoscopy. I was prescribed an anti-depressant to take care of my GERD as a result of the endoscopy which did nothing at all for the pain. The stomach pain did eventually go away, but my GERD did never did go away.

Would the stomach pain and nausea I had been a result of the duodenitis? Would the Meloxicam have caused the duodenitis? Why wouldn't my gastro specialist tell me that I had duodenitis?

By anon349735 — On Sep 28, 2013

I am a 34 year old male. I just got my endoscopy done alone with duodenal (D2) biopsy. My report impression mentions chronic duodenitis. Could you please tell me what foods should I eat and avoid? Currently I'm taking pantop d and pantocid, which doesn't seem helping much. Please help!

By anon333472 — On May 06, 2013

I have acid reflux. What test do I need to find out the cause of my acid reflux? --Shamima

By anon293578 — On Sep 26, 2012

Can duodenitis cause back pain?

By anon293358 — On Sep 25, 2012

Go get a gastrointestinal endoscopy.

By anon290735 — On Sep 10, 2012

My duodenitis is caused is caused by stress and my anxiety problems. I can't drink my favorite juice, (orange juice), and I have to avoid my favorite foods, like spicy jalapeno peppers. To anyone wondering what they should avoid, just avoid acidic foods. They'll only make your duodenitis worse.

@stone3274: I had the same problem when I was twelve. My mother chided me everyday to drink my milk so I wouldn't get sick and I would be healthy and strong. I turned out to be lactose intolerant. Have him tested for food allergies.

By anon279224 — On Jul 11, 2012

I too am going through duodenitis. I was diagnosed with H. Pylori in September 2010, along with having sore like ulcers in my stomach. I was placed on PrevPac for two weeks. Though the symptoms went away for about four months, they came right back.

I have been placed on Prilosec, Nexium and neither have worked, so my PCM finally had to special order Aciphex and I was told to take carafate since it coats the sores in my stomach. I was taking it for a while and then the symptoms came right back with the acid reflux, constant bloating and gas. I have problems when I lie on my belly. I don't know if I've actually grown an ulcer now.

All I can tell you is to practice a healthy diet and to stay away from fried foods, citrus drinks such as orange juice, no chocolate and no red sauce. Put more fiber in your diet, as well as fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water.

By anon239832 — On Jan 11, 2012

My father has a chronic duodenitis along with erosions in the fundus and stomach. Any suggestions about food and medication?

By anon235063 — On Dec 15, 2011

I have forgotten to mention that my daughter has type 1 diabetes, which the doctor said was the cause of getting the duodenitis and only today after five years, the endometriosis was diagnosed only because the doctor had the same condition. She recognized the symptoms and ordered the necessary tests.

By Stone3274 — On May 13, 2011

My son is 12 years old. We have had ct scans, x-rays with dye in, and they say he has Duodenitis. We are treating him for it with no results. He was also checked for h pylori and came up negative. He still gets nausea and is missing a lot of school because of it. Any help with this please?

By anon168950 — On Apr 19, 2011

for the treatment of duodenitis, you should take

a proton pump inhibitor (RABTAC), two antibiotics, sucralfate and zinc forte (that protects mucosa lining).

By Aakanksha — On Jan 05, 2011

I am a 25 year old female. i just got my endoscopy done alone with three biopsies. my report impression mentions chronic duodenitis due to h. pylori along with severe gastric. could you please tell me what foods should i eat and avoid? currently I'm taking pantop d and pantocid, which doesn't seem helping much. Please help!

By anon131830 — On Dec 04, 2010

how long does it take for duodenitis to heal?

By anon129807 — On Nov 25, 2010

i am 27 and i have suffered with bad stomach pains for eight years now. i end up in agony most nights and have done for ages no doctor or hospital took me seriously they just shrugged and said ibs i have been for a endoscopy today and they gave me a diagnosis.

esophagus = normal

stomach =gastritis

duodenum = duodenitis

i have pictures as well and all i can see are tiny yellow spots scattered around on the picture. can someone explain if i should worry? my doctors appointment is tomorrow and I'd like to know now to put my mind at rest.

By Planch — On Aug 12, 2010

@galen84basc -- No, the two are different. Although they can both be caused by the h. pylori bacteria, a duodenal ulcer is an actual sore on the duodenum, whereas duodenitis is swelling and inflammation of the duodenum.

The two conditions can, and often do, happen together, however, so anybody with symptoms of duodenal ulcers of duodenitis really should have an endoscopy done as soon as possible.

By galen84basc — On Aug 12, 2010

Is a duodenal ulcer the same thing as duodenitis?

By rallenwriter — On Aug 12, 2010

One of the more common kinds of duodenitis is nodular duodenitis.

This presents in the same manner as the other forms of duodenitis, but is caused by an inflammation of the duodenal bulb.

The duodenal bulb is the part of the duodenum that is closest to the stomach. Thus it is prone to infection from h. pylori bacteria.

It can be easy to confuse gastritis with duodenitis of the bulb, so if you are having symptoms of any kind of duodenitis, be sure to have your doctor check it out immediately.

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