How Are Stomach Ulcers Treated
Ulcers can heal if they are given a rest from the factors that created them. Healthcare providers treat uncomplicated ulcers with a combination of medicines to reduce stomach acid, coat and protect the ulcer during healing and kill any bacterial infection that may be involved. Medicines may include:
- Antibiotics. If H. pylori was found in your digestive tract, your healthcare provider will prescribe some combination of antibiotics to kill the bacteria, based on your medical history and condition. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include tetracycline, metronidazole, clarithromycin and amoxicillin.
- Proton pump inhibitors . These drugs help reduce stomach acid and protect your stomach lining. PPIs include esomeprazole,dexlansoprazole,lansoprazole, omeprazole,pantoprazole and rabeprazole.
- Histamine receptor blockers . These reduce stomach acid by blocking the chemical that tells your body to produce it . H2 blockers include famotidine, cimetidine and nizatidine.
- Antacids. These common over-the-counter medicines help to neutralize stomach acid. They may bring some symptom relief, but they arent enough to heal your ulcer. They also might interfere with some antibiotics.
- Cytoprotective agents. These medicines help to coat and protect your stomach lining. They include sucralfate and misoprostol.
- Bismuth Subsalicylate. This over-the-counter medicine, commonly found as Pepto-Bismol, can help coat and protect your ulcer from stomach acid.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Peptic Ulcers
Stomach pain is the most common sign of an ulcer. It usually feels like sharp aches between the breastbone and the belly button. This pain often comes a few hours after eating. It can also happen during the night or early in the morning, when the stomach is empty. Eating something or taking acid suppressor medicine sometimes eases the pain.
Other symptoms of ulcers can include:
- loss of appetite
- bloody or blackish bowel movements
Anyone who thinks they might have an ulcer needs to see a doctor. An ulcer thats not treated can grow larger and deeper. This can lead to other problems, such as bleeding in the digestive system or a hole in the wall of the stomach or duodenum, which can make someone very sick.
When To See The Doctor
Peptic ulcers will get worse if theyre not treated, so contact your doctor if you have symptoms or any signs that you could have one. Unfortunately, a lot of the time the way people find out they have an ulcer is by developing bleedstheyre taking a lot of aspirin or NSAIDS and they either start vomiting blood or have black tarry stool, says Marcus.
Your doctor may be able to diagnose a peptic ulcer by talking with you about your symptoms. Be sure to disclose the frequency of NSAID use.
However, some tests are usually used to confirm the diagnosis. For instance, to see if you have an H. pylori infection, your doctor will test your blood, breath or stool. They may also look inside your stomach and duodenum by doing an endoscopy or X-ray. An endoscopy is a procedure where a lighted tube is inserted through the throat and into the stomach to check for abnormalities.
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What Are The Complications Of Peptic Ulcers
Ulcers can cause serious problems if you dont get treatment.
The most common problems include:
- Bleeding. As an ulcer wears away the muscles of the stomach or duodenal wall, blood vessels may be hurt. This causes bleeding.
- Hole . Sometimes an ulcer makes a hole in the wall of your stomach or duodenum. When this happens, bacteria and partly digested food can get in. This causes infection and redness or swelling .
- Narrowing and blockage . Ulcers that are found where the duodenum joins the stomach can cause swelling and scarring. This can narrow or even block the opening to the duodenum. Food cant leave your stomach and go into your small intestine. This causes vomiting. You cant eat properly.
Duration Of Peptic Ulcers
Ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori heal when the bacteria is killed. The typical course of treatment includes two weeks of antibiotics along with acid-suppressing medicine. This is followed by an additional four to eight weeks of the acid-suppressing medicine alone.
Its possible for an ulcer to heal temporarily without antibiotics, but it will likely recur or another one will form nearby if the bacteria is not killed.
Peptic ulcers caused by medication usually heal shortly after you stop taking the medication. Doctors typically recommend taking antacids for two to six weeks to assist with healing and relieve pain.
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How Are Stomach Ulcers Diagnosed
Diagnosis and treatment will depend on your symptoms and the severity of your ulcer. To diagnose a stomach ulcer, your doctor will review your medical history along with your symptoms and any prescription or over-the-counter medications youre taking.
To rule out H. pylori infection, a blood, stool, or breath test may be ordered. With a breath test, youll be instructed to drink a clear liquid and breathe into a bag, which is then sealed. If H. pylori is present, the breath sample will contain higher-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide.
Other tests and procedures used to diagnose stomach ulcers include:
- Barium swallow: You drink a thick white liquid that coats your upper gastrointestinal tract and helps your doctor see your stomach and small intestine on X-rays.
- Endoscopy : A thin, lighted tube is inserted through your mouth and into the stomach and the first part of the small intestine. This test is used to look for ulcers, bleeding, and any tissue that looks abnormal.
- Endoscopic biopsy: A piece of stomach tissue is removed so it can be analyzed in a lab.
What Is A Stomach Ulcer
A stomach ulcer, also called a gastric ulcer, is an open sore that develops in your stomach lining. You can also get one in your duodenum, the first part of the small intestine that your stomach feeds into. Duodenal ulcers and stomach ulcers are both types of peptic ulcers. Theyre named for pepsin, one of the digestive juices that are found in the stomach and that sometimes leak into the duodenum. These juices are a contributing factor in peptic ulcer disease.
Peptic ulcers occur when the protective mucous lining in your stomach and duodenum has been eroded, allowing gastric acids and digestive enzymes to eat away at your stomach and duodenal walls. This eventually results in open sores that are continually irritated by the acid. If left untreated, they can begin to cause serious complications, such as internal bleeding. Over time, they can even wear a hole all the way through. This is a medical emergency.
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Things I Learned About Ulcers
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Halfway through February, I could no longer sleep through the night. At 2 a.m., Id find myself chugging milk from the carton to extinguish a fire at the top of my rib cage. The gnawing feeling high in my stomach alternated with nausea so arresting I kept a bucket next to my laptop and considered taking a pregnancy test, even though I was 99 percent sure I wasnt expecting.
One day on the subway platform, I doubled over and let out a groan so pathetic it prompted a complete stranger to ask, Are you all right? Then I knew it was time to seek medical attention. New Yorkers dont address strangers on the subway, I told myself.Its like breaking the fourth wall.
The next day, my primary care doctor told me I probably had an ulcer, a raw spot or sore in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. Here are some of the things I learned about ulcers during the odyssey that followed.
Anyone can get an ulcer. Back in the 1980s, when doctors and most everyone else thought psychological stress or spicy foods led to ulcers, two Australian scientists discovered that the main culprit was actually a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. That discovery eventually won them a Nobel Prize in 2005, and ushered in an era of using antibiotics to cure ulcers.
Prevention Of Peptic Ulcers
Using alternatives to NSAIDs, like acetaminophen, to relieve pain can help prevent peptic ulcers. If you need to use an NSAID, opt for the lowest dose and take it with a meal.
Peptic ulcers caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori are not usually preventable, but good hygiene such as washing your hands thoroughly before eating and after using the bathroom may help limit the spread.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Peptic Ulcers
For a long time, it was believed that spicy foods or stress led to peptic ulcers but doctors now know that this isn’t the case.
In fact, the most common causes of ulcers are:
- Helicobacter pylori, a type of bacteria that can infect your stomach
- Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as aspirin, Advil or Motrin , and Aleve , which can wear away at the mucus layer of the digestive tract
Certain factors can put a person at a greater risk of developing a peptic ulcer, including:
- Taking high doses of NSAIDs
- Using NSAIDs continuously over a long period of time
- Being female
- Having a history of ulcer disease
- Taking corticosteroids, medications that may be prescribed to treat asthma, arthritis, or lupus
Signs You May Have An Ulcer
Did you know that stomach ulcers also called peptic ulcers affect at least 1 in 10 Americans over the course of their lives? And while stomach ulcers can be treated easily when caught early, lack of medical care can lead to serious complications.
Understanding the signs of stomach ulcers is important in helping you get the treatment you need. At Prima Medicine in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, our care team has the experience and knowledge to diagnose and treat stomach ulcers. Weve curated this guide to help you recognize the warning signs of an ulcer and understand what you can do about it.
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Could I Have An Ulcer And Not Know It
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Around 25 million people will have a stomach ulcer in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite their prevalence, the symptoms of an ulcer can frequently be mistaken for other conditions, like heartburnand some people may not show any signs at all. Its also unlikely that stress or your diet is the culprit. If youre concerned that your stomach pain could be something more serious, read on to find out the causes, proper treatment and prevention methods for peptic ulcers.
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Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy And Biopsy
In an upper GI endoscopy, a gastroenterologist, surgeon, or other trained health care professional uses an endoscope to see inside your upper GI tract. This procedure takes place at a hospital or an outpatient center.
An intravenous needle will be placed in your arm to provide a sedative. Sedatives help you stay relaxed and comfortable during the procedure. In some cases, the procedure can be performed without sedation. You will be given a liquid anesthetic to gargle or spray anesthetic on the back of your throat. The doctor will carefully feed the endoscope down your esophagus and into your stomach and duodenum. A small camera mounted on the endoscope sends a video image to a monitor, allowing close examination of the lining of your upper GI tract. The endoscope pumps air into your stomach and duodenum, making them easier to see.
The doctor may perform a biopsy with the endoscope by taking a small piece of tissue from the lining of your esophagus. You wont feel the biopsy. A pathologist examines the tissue in a lab.
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What About Complicated Ulcers
While most ulcers are successfully treated with medication, some complicated ulcers may require surgery. Ulcers that are bleeding, or that have perforated your stomach or intestinal wall, will need to be surgically repaired. An ulcer that is malignant, or obstructing a passageway, will need to be surgically removed. In severe cases, an ulcer that keeps coming back may be treated by surgery to cut off some of the nerve supply to the stomach that produces stomach acid.
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Nausea and vomiting are also due to the inflammatory cascade that occurs as a result of the ulcers development, says Modi. The inflammation of the stomach lining itself causes intermittent contractions and if the muscles of the abdominal wall contract with enough force, it can cause full-on vomiting, says Rudolph Bedford, M.D., gastroenterologist at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
In some cases, these symptoms strike because the ulcer is causing a blockage in the stomach and food isnt able to pass easily into the small intestine. Your doctor can determine the exact cause of the ulcer and, most likely, treat it with antacid medicationsbut, if theres evidence of a blockage, youll be admitted to the hospital for further treatment, says Modi.
Find out what you MUST do the next time you go to the doctor:
Ulcers can bleed and cause vomitingparticularly, vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds , says Sophie Balzora, M.D., gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. Your poop may also become black in color, which, again, can be indicative of digested blood. Both are signs that require urgent and emergent medical attention, she says.
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What Not To Eat With A Stomach Ulcer
Since stomach ulcer is a problem related to stomach, following a diet menu which can help heal stomach ulcer is advisable. However, there are certain diet restrictions for individual suffering from the stomach ulcer. These include
- High salt intake in food
- Higher Intake of fat in food should be avoided both for preventing the occurrence of stomach ulcers or any other gastrointestinal problems
- Avoiding large meals and replacing it with 5 to 6 small meals each day since the small meals would require the stomach to produce smaller quantities of stomach acids
Thus Ideally The Food items Which Should be Avoided by the Individuals Suffering from Stomach Ulcers Include
- Red Meat
- Caffeinated products such as chocolate, coffee and soft drinks
- High fat dairy products
- Spicy foods with seasonings of chili peppers, black pepper, mustard, and other strong spices
- Pre Prepared Meals
Black Or Dark Colored Stool
If you think you may have an ulcer, a good way to tell is to look at your stool. If you notice that when you use the restroom your stool is extremely dark in color, or even black, chances are you are right about what is ailing you. If this is the case, you should absolutely go to the hospital immediately.
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Why You Should Always Take These 10 Stomach Ulcer Symptoms Seriously
If you have chronic stomach pain, the cause may be stomach ulcers. The good news is, stomach ulcers are highly treatable. But its extremely important that you seek treatment without delay. When left untreated, stomach ulcers can cause serious, even lethal, health problems. There are many misconceptions about what causes stomach ulcers and the different types of ulcers. In this article, well give you a clear breakdown of what a stomach ulcer is, 10 stomach ulcer symptoms to look out for, the available stomach ulcer treatment options once your diagnosis has been confirmed, as well as how to lower your risk of developing ulcers.
What Are The Symptoms Of Any Complications
Stomach ulcers can cause various complications but these are much less common now because of more effective treatments. However, complications can be very serious and include:
Bleeding from the ulcer
- This can range from a ‘trickle’ to a life-threatening bleed.
- If there is sudden heavy bleeding then this will cause you to vomit blood and make you feel very faint.
- Less sudden bleeding may cause you to vomit and the vomit looks coffee-coloured because the stomach acid has partly broken down the blood.
- A more gradual trickle of blood will pass through your gut and cause your stools to look very dark in colour or even black .
PerforationThis is the term used to describe the ulcer having gone all the way through the wall of the stomach. Food and acid in the stomach then leak out of the stomach. This usually causes severe pain and makes you very unwell. Stomach perforation is a medical emergency and needs hospital treatment as soon as possible.
Stomach blockageThis is now rare. An ulcer at the end of the stomach can cause the outlet of the stomach to narrow and cause an obstruction. This can cause frequent severe vomiting.
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Determining Which Stomach Ulcer Treatment Is Right For You
The right treatment for your stomach ulcer will depend on its underlying cause. If you seek treatment before your ulcer becomes too severe, all youll need is a prescription from your doctor. If your ulcer has begun to bleed, however, you will probably need to be hospitalized so you can receive intensive treatment. In certain instances, a blood transfusion may be required. And in rare cases, you may need surgery to fully treat your stomach ulcer.