How Soon After Treatment Will I Feel Better
If you take all medicines as prescribed and avoid irritating the ulcer with NSAIDs, alcohol or smoking, your ulcer should heal well within a few weeks. Surgical cases may take a few weeks more. Your healthcare provider will follow up with you at the end of your course of medication to make sure the ulcer has healed and any infection has cleared. They will probably take follow-up tests, including an upper endoscopy to look at the site of the ulcer and tests for H. pylori, if you had it, to make sure the infection is gone.
What Kind Of Doctor Treats Peptic Ulcers
- If you suspect you may have a peptic ulcer, you may first be diagnosed by your family practitioner or internist.
- Children or teenagers may see a pediatrician.
- For further treatment you will likely be referred to a gastroenterologist, a specialist in disorders of the digestive tract.
- If you have an emergency such as vomiting or severe abdominal pain you will be seen by an emergency medicine specialist in an emergency room.
- In the rare case where surgery is needed, you may see a general surgeon.
What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose A Peptic Ulcer
Endoscopy. An upper endoscopy exam is expedient because allows healthcare providers to see inside your digestive tract and also take a tissue sample to analyze in the lab. The test is done by passing a thin tube with a tiny camera attached down your throat and into your stomach and duodenum. Youll have medication to numb your throat and help you relax during the test. Your healthcare provider may use the endoscope to take a tissue sample to test for signs of mucous damage, anemia, H. pylori infection or malignancy. If they take a sample, you wont feel it.
Imaging tests. Imaging tests to look inside the stomach and small intestine include:
- Upper GI series. An upper GI X-ray exam examines the stomach and duodenum through X-rays. Its less invasive than an endoscopy. For the X-ray, youll swallow a chalky fluid called barium, which will coat your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The barium helps your digestive organs show up better in black and white images.
- CT scan. Your healthcare provider might recommend a CT scan if they need to see your organs in more detail. A CT scan can show complications such as a perforation in the stomach or intestinal wall. For the test, youll lie on a table inside a scanner machine while X-rays are taken. You may drink or have an injection with contrast fluid to make your organs show up better in images.
Tests for H. pylori. Your healthcare provider might want to test you separately for H. pylori infection. Tests may include:
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When Should I See A Doctor If I Think I Have A Peptic Ulcer
- If you have burning pain in your upper stomach that is relieved by eating or taking antacids, call a health-care professional for an appointment. Don’t assume you have an ulcer. Certain other conditions can cause similar symptoms.
- If you vomit blood or have other signs of gastrointestinal bleeding, go to an emergency department right away. Peptic ulcers can cause massive bleeding, which requires blood transfusion or surgery.
- Severe abdominal pain suggests perforation or tearing of an ulcer. This is an emergency that may require surgery to fix a hole in your stomach.
- Vomiting and abdominal pain also can be a sign of an obstruction, another complication of peptic ulcers. This also may require emergency surgery.
What Triggers Stomach Ulcer Symptoms
Stomach ulcers are irritated by stomach acid. Some people notice this irritation more after they eat, and some people notice it more on an empty stomach. There are also certain irritants that seem to make ulcer symptoms worse and make them more difficult to heal. Smoking and alcohol are the biggest ones.
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What Tests Are There For A Stomach Ulcer
If your doctor thinks you may have a stomach ulcer, the initial tests will include some blood tests. These tests will help to check whether you have become anaemic because of any bleeding from the ulcer. The blood test will also check to see that your liver and pancreas are working properly.
The main tests that are then used to diagnose a stomach ulcer are as follows:
- A test to detect the H. pylori germ is usually done if you have a stomach ulcer. The H. pylori bacterium can be detected in a sample of stool , or in a ‘breath test’, or from a blood test, or from a biopsy sample taken during a gastroscopy. See the separate leaflet called Helicobacter Pylori for more details.
- Gastroscopy is the test that can confirm a stomach ulcer. Gastroscopy is usually done as an outpatient ‘day case’. You may be given a sedative to help you to relax. In this test, a doctor looks inside your stomach by passing a thin, flexible telescope down your gullet . The doctor will then be able to see any inflammation or ulcers in your stomach.
- Small samples are usually taken of the tissue in and around the ulcer during gastroscopy. These are sent to the laboratory to be looked at under the microscope. This is important because some ulcers are caused by stomach cancer. However, most stomach ulcers are not caused by cancer.
Can You Have 2 Stomach Ulcers
Gastric and duodenal ulcers are two kinds of peptic ulcers. A peptic ulcer is a sore thats on the inside of the stomach lining a gastric ulcer or the upper part of the small intestine a duodenal ulcer. A person can have one or both types of ulcers at the same time. Having both types is known as gastroduodenal.
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What Causes Stomach Ulcers
The two most common causes are:
- H. pylori infection. This common bacterial infection affects up to half of people worldwide. It primarily lives in the stomach. In many people, it doesnt seem to cause problems. Their gut immune systems keep it in check. But a portion of those infected have H. pylori overgrowth. The bacteria continue to multiply, eating into the stomach lining and causing chronic inflammation and peptic ulcer disease. H. pylori infection is associated with about 60% of duodenal ulcers and 40% of gastric ulcers.
- Overuse of NSAIDs. NSAID stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. These include common over-the-counter pain relief medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin. NSAIDs contribute to ulcers in several ways. They irritate the stomach lining on contact and repress some of the chemicals that defend and repair the mucous lining. Up to 30% of people who take NSAIDs regularly develop peptic ulcers. Up to 50% of all peptic ulcers are caused by the overuse of NSAIDs.
Less common causes of stomach ulcers include:
- Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome. This is a rare condition that causes your stomach to produce too much gastric acid.
- Severe physiological stress. Severe illness, burns or injuries can produce stress ulcers in the stomach. Physiological stress changes your bodys PH balance, increasing stomach acid. Stress ulcers develop very quickly in response to stress, unlike normal stomach ulcers that develop gradually.
What Are The Common Side Effects Of Ulcer Medication
All medications may produce side effects, and side effects will vary depending on the type of medication. This is not a complete list of possible side effects, so consult with a healthcare professional about any concerns or questions you may have regarding your specific situation.
Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers are relatively safe medications available in prescription and over-the-counter formulations. The most commonly experienced side effects are digestive system problems such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. H2 blockers can also affect the central nervous system, so headaches, drowsiness, and dizziness are often experienced.
Proton pump inhibitors can reduce the absorption of calcium in the body, which can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Patients will often be prescribed or recommended calcium supplements to take along with proton pump inhibitors. Other serious side effects of proton pump inhibitors may include kidney disease, vitamin B12 deficiency, and diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile infection.
The most serious side effects of H2 blockers are related to their effects on the central nervous system. These side effects may include delirium, hallucinations, extreme drowsiness, and slurred speech.
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What Is The Cause Of Peptic Ulcers
When you eat, your stomach produces hydrochloric acid and an enzyme called pepsin to digest the food.
- The food is partially digested in the stomach and then moves on to the duodenum to continue the process.
- Peptic ulcers occur when the acid and enzyme overcome the defense mechanisms of the gastrointestinal tract and erode the mucosal wall.
In the past it was thought that ulcers were caused by lifestyle factors such as eating habits, cigarettesmoking, and stress.
- Now it is understood that people with ulcers have an imbalance between acid and pepsin coupled with the digestive tract’s inability to protect itself from these harsh substances.
- Research done in the 1980s showed that some ulcers are caused by infection with a bacterium named Helicobacter pylori, usually called H pylori.
- Not everyone who gets an ulcer is infected with H pylori. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause ulcers if taken regularly.
Some types of medical therapy can contribute to ulcer formation. The following factors can weaken the protective mucosal barrier of the stomach increasing the chances of getting an ulcer and slow the healing of existing ulcers.
- Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , and newer anti-inflammatory medications
- Radiation therapy:-used for diseases such as cancer
People who take aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medications are at an increased risk even if they do not have H pylori infection.
Foods To Help Prevent Symptoms
Gastritis involves inflammation of the stomach lining. For this reason, an anti-inflammatory diet may help some people.
There is no single best anti-inflammatory diet. To combat inflammation, eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods, which are rich in antioxidants. It is also important to avoid processed foods and any containing unhealthful fats and added salt or sugar.
Learn more about an anti-inflammatory diet here.
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How To Ease Your Stomach Woes And Get Ulcer Pain Relief
Learn more about ulcers and how they contribute to stomach pain. Are you looking for quick ulcer pain relief?
People with ulcers know the struggle of living with chronic stomach pain. Its an uphill battle that can leave you feeling sick if you dont eat and sick if you do. Theres also the nighttime discomfort that can wake you up and disrupt your sleep routine, making matters worse. The good news is there are things you can do to find long-term ulcer pain relief.
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.
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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, clarithromycinand 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.
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 isnât 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
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What Are Its Symptoms
The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is a burning or gnawing pain in the centre of the abdomen. This is caused by the ulcer and is aggravated by stomach acid coming in contact with the ulcerated area. The pain typically may:
- Be felt anywhere from your navel up to your breastbone
- Be worse when your stomach is empty
- Flare up at night
- Often be temporarily relieved by eating certain foods that buffer stomach acid or by taking an acid-reducing medication
- Disappear and then return for a few days or weeks.
Less often, ulcers may cause severe signs or symptoms such as:
- The vomiting of blood
- Dark blood in stools or stools that are black or tarry
- Nausea or throwing up blood
- Unexplained weight loss
- Appetite changes.
People who have stomach ulcers generally continue to function quite comfortably and some ulcers heal spontaneously without medication.
However, left untreated, stomach ulcers can cause complications, including bleeding, perforation and obstruction of the gastric system.
Home Remedies For Ulcer Pain
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Can A Peptic Ulcer Come Back
Yes, a peptic ulcer can come back. If you smoke or take NSAIDs, peptic ulcers are more likely to come back. If you need to take an NSAID, your doctor may switch you to a different medicine or add medicines to help prevent a peptic ulcer. Peptic ulcer disease can return, even if you have been careful to reduce your risk.
Can Peptic Ulcers Be Prevented
Doctors arent sure how H. pylori bacteria spread from person to person. The bacteria have been found in saliva , so kissing may be one way. They also may spread through food, water, or contact with vomit thats infected with the bacteria.
Regular use of NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal problems and bleeding in some people. Acetaminophen does not cause stomach ulcers and is a good alternative to NSAIDs.
As with many infections, washing your hands well and often is an important part of ulcer prevention. This is extra important after you use the bathroom and before you eat. And take good care of your body by exercising regularly and not smoking or drinking.
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Stomach Cancer And Other Conditions Associated With H Pylori
H pylori is strongly associated with certain cancers. Some studies have also linked it to a number of non-gastrointestinal illnesses, although the evidence is inconsistent.
Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, is the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. In developing countries, where the rate of H pylori is very high, the risk of stomach cancer is six times higher than in the United States. Evidence now suggests that H pylori may be as carcinogenic to the stomach as cigarette smoke is to the lungs.
Infection with H pylori promotes a precancerous condition called atrophic gastritis. The process most likely starts in childhood. It may lead to cancer through the following steps:
- The stomach becomes chronically inflamed and loses patches of glands that secrete protein and acid.
- New cells replace destroyed cells. But the new cells do not produce enough acid to protect against carcinogens.
- Over time, cancer cells may develop and multiply in the stomach.
Although the evidence is mixed, some research suggests that early elimination of H pylori may reduce the risk of stomach cancer to that of the general population. It is important to follow patients after treatment for a long period of time.
H pylori also is weakly associated with other non-intestinal disorders, including migraine headache, Raynaud disease , and skin disorders such as chronic hives.