Signs And Symptoms Of Stomach Ulcers
Symptoms of stomach ulcers may be different for each person, and some people may not have any symptoms at all. Most people feel pain, but not every stomach ulcer causes stomach pain. The most common signs and symptoms of a stomach ulcer are:
Normally, gastric ulcers cause pain while food is still in the stomach, so while youre still eating or soon afterwards. If you experience pain when your stomach is empty, like in the middle of the night, you may have a duodenal ulcer. It is a different type of peptic ulcer that occurs in the upper small intestines, rather than in the stomach.
Nausea is another symptom of peptic ulcers. If your ulcer tears, it can start bleeding. This can cause you to feel especially nauseated and you may vomit up blood.
Loss of appetite
Having an ulcer can cause you to lose your appetite or not feel hungry. You may also feel full even though youve only eaten a small amount of food. These symptoms can cause you to lose weight quickly and unexpectedly.
Stomach Ulcer Symptoms You Cant Ignore And How To Naturally Treat Them
May 20, 2019
Chances are that if you havent experienced one yourself, you at least know someone whos had a stomach ulcer at one point or another. Estimates show that about 500,000 new cases of peptic ulcers are reported each year in the U.S. alone, and at any given time about 5 million people are affected. In addition, one in 10 adults can expect to deal with painful ulcers at one point or another.
For many years, doctors thought that high amounts of stress alone could cause a stomach ulcer to form by increasing production of stomach acid. But then research emerged in the 1980s showing that frequent use of anti-inflammatory drugs , a poor lifestyle, and especially a type of bacterial infection caused by the strain Helicobacter pylori are the real culprits of the majority of ulcers.
Fortunately, according to an article published in The Lancet, prevalence of H. pylori infection and peptic ulcer diseases have become substantially less prevalent than they were two decades ago.
Wondering how to treat a stomach ulcer if youve already developed one? Below well cover much more about stomach ulcer treatments including medications, stress management and dietary changes.
Ronald Hsu Md Facg Facp Dds
Sutter Roseville Medical Center
Its impossible to ignore the gnawing, aching abdominal pains that accompany a stomach ulcer. About 25 million Americans suffer from an ulcer at some point in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Contrary to popular belief, ulcers are not caused by psychological stress or the ingestion of spicy foods. Ronald Hsu, M.D., a gastroenterologist with the Sutter Roseville Medical Center, says two Australian researchers discovered in the early 1980s that a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori is the root cause of most stomach ulcers.
Nobody believed them when this was discovered, Dr. Hsu says. The conventional thinking at that time was that bacteria couldnt live in the stomach on account of the strength of gastric acid.
Eventually, the medical community realized the two men were correct in their findings. Pathologist J. Robin Warren and physician Barry J. Marshall were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 2005 for their discovery of H. pylori. Dr. Marshall famously infected himself with the bacterium in an attempt to prove its link to stomach inflammation and ulcers. It is now firmly established that the bacterium causes more than 90 percent of duodenal ulcers and up to 80 percent of gastric ulcers.
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How Is An H Pylori Related Ulcer Diagnosed
Diagnosing an Ulcer
To see if symptoms are caused by an ulcer, the doctor may do an upper gastrointestinal series or an endoscopy. An upper GI series is an x-ray of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The patient drinks a chalky liquid called barium to make these organs and any ulcers show up more clearly on the x-ray.
An endoscopy is an exam with an endoscope, a thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera on the end. The patient is lightly sedated, and the doctor carefully eases the endoscope through the patients mouth and down the throat to the stomach and duodenum. This allows the doctor to see the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The doctor can use the endoscope to take photos of ulcers or remove a tiny piece of tissue to view under a microscope.
Diagnosing H. pylori
If an ulcer is found, the doctor will test the patient for H. pylori. This test is important because treatment for an ulcer caused by H. pylori is different from that for an ulcer caused by NSAIDs.
H. pylori is diagnosed through blood, breath, and tissue tests. Blood tests are most common. They detect antibodies to H. pylori bacteria. Blood is taken at the doctors office through a finger stick.
Breath tests are mainly used after treatment to see if treatment worked, but they can be used in diagnosis, too. The test is called a urea breath test.
Tissue tests are usually done using tissue removed with the endoscope. There are three types:
What Causes A Peptic Ulcer
Causes of peptic ulcers include
- long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as aspirin and ibuprofen
- an infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori
- rare cancerous and noncancerous tumors in the stomach, duodenum, or pancreasknown as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
Sometimes peptic ulcers are caused by both NSAIDs and H. pylori.
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How Stomach Ulcers Are Treated
With treatment, most stomach ulcers will heal within a month or two. The treatment recommended for you will depend on what caused the ulcer.
Most people will be prescribed a medication called a proton pump inhibitor to reduce the amount of acid their stomach produces and allow the ulcer to heal naturally.
If an H. pylori infection is responsible for the ulcers, antibiotics will also be used to kill the bacteria, which should prevent the ulcer coming back.
If the ulcers are caused by the use of NSAIDs, PPIs are usually prescribed and your doctor will discuss whether you should keep using NSAIDs.
Alternative medication to NSAIDs, such as paracetamol, may be recommended.
Stomach ulcers can come back after treatment, although this is less likely to happen if the underlying cause is addressed.
Read more about treating stomach ulcers.
When Should You Call Or See A Doctor
If you think you have a stomach ulcer, call your doctor. Together you can discuss your symptoms and treatment options. If you dont already have a physician, you can use the Healthline FindCare tool to find a provider near you.
Its important to get a stomach ulcer taken care of because without treatment, ulcers and H. pylori can cause:
- bleeding from the ulcer site that can become life-threatening
- penetration, which occurs when the ulcer goes through the wall of the digestive tract and into another organ, such as the pancreas
- perforation, which occurs when the ulcer creates a hole in the wall of the digestive tract
- obstruction in the digestive tract, which is due to swelling of inflamed tissues
- stomach cancer, specifically non-cardia gastric cancer
Symptoms of these complications can include those listed below. If you have any of these symptoms, be sure to call you doctor right away:
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Diagnosis Of Stomach Ulcer
Two tests are frequently used to diagnose a stomach ulcer. When given an upper GI, people will be given a barium solution to drink. This will be tracked with a series of X-rays that will allow your doctor to view a stomach ulcer on screen. An esophagogastroduodenoscopy is performed by a gastroenterologist. A small camera protected by a tube will be sent down the GI tract, allowing the doctor to view the stomach and small intestine to check for ulcers.
Pain Medications And Stomach Ulcers
While H. pylori is the main cause of most stomach ulcers, people who use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen on a long-term basis are at a higher risk of developing the painful sores. Dr. Hsu says the continual use of these medications can damage the stomach wall, causing ulcers.
This isnt common in young people, but for those over the age of 60 who take these medications for pain relief or for osteoarthritis, prolonged use can cause stomach perforation and bleeding, he says.
Stomach ulcers can also be exacerbated by the use of cigarettes and alcohol, which further irritate the inflamed stomach lining. Tobacco slows the healing of ulcers and increases the likelihood of them coming back. Its a myth that antacids and milk can heal stomach ulcers, but they can provide some brief pain relief. Taking antacids as needed between meals and at bedtime can help ease discomfort.
Stress can also worsen ulcers as it can cause the body to produce larger amounts of acid, irritating an existing ulcer. Increased acid in the stomach makes it difficult for an ulcer to heal, just like picking at a scab on your skin or scratching a rash delays the healing process.
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What Is Peptic Ulcer Disease
Peptic ulcer disease is a condition in which painful sores or ulcers develop in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine . Normally, a thick layer of mucus protects the stomach lining from the effect of its digestive juices. But many things can reduce this protective layer, allowing stomach acid to damage the tissue.
What Are Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers, or gastric ulcers, are open sores on the lining of your stomach. They are fairly common. Most people with stomach ulcers feel a burning sensation in their stomach or abdomen.
Stomach ulcers are a type of peptic ulcer. They develop when the acids that normally help you to digest and break down food damage the lining of the stomach or the small intestine. This causes a break in the lining, resulting in an ulcer.
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Treatment And Prevention Of Stomach Ulcer
Treatments for stomach ulcers will combine medications that will kill any h. pylori bacteria present and reduce the acidity within the stomach. This will give the lining of your stomach a chance to heal and will reduce the chance that it will return.
Foods That Can Help
You can include cabbage in your diet when you have a stomach ulcer. It helps by producing lactic acid that increases the production of an amino acid responsible for directing more blood to the stomach lining. This helps heal the ulcer and strengthen the lining. It is also a good source of vitamin C, which improves your defense against H. Pylori infection.
Take a cabbage and cut one-half of its raw head. Now, take two carrots and cut into small pieces. Put both carrots and cabbage in your blender and turn it on. Extract the juice and drink about one-half cup before each meal. Have another one-half cup at bedtime for a few weeks to treat stomach ulcer.
You can eat both ripe and unripe bananas when you have a stomach ulcer. Antibacterial compounds in bananas are effective against ulcer-causing infections. Regular consumption of bananas is also helpful in reducing the acidity of gastric juice, which in turn reduces inflammation.
Eat three ripe bananas everyday to treat your stomach ulcer. You can also make banana milkshakes to enjoy the same benefits.
How Are Hpylori Peptic Ulcers Treated
Drugs Used To Treat H. pylori Peptic Ulcers
Antibiotics: metronidazole, tetracycline, amoxicillin, clarithromycin.
H2-blockers: cimetidine, ranitidine, famotidine, nizatidine.
Proton pump inhibitors: omeprazole, lansoprazole.
Stomach-lining protector: bismuth subsalicylate.
H. pylori peptic ulcers are treated with drugs to kill the bacteria, to reduce stomach acid, and to protect the stomach lining. Antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria. Two types of acid-suppressing drugs might be used: H2-blockers and proton pump inhibitors.
H2-blockers work by blocking histamine, which stimulates acid secretion. They help reduce ulcer pain after a few weeks. Proton pump inhibitors suppress acid production by halting the mechanism that pumps the acid into the stomach. H2-blockers and proton pump inhibitors have been prescribed alone for years as treatments for ulcers. But used alone, these drugs do not eradicate H. pylori, and therefore do not cure H. pylori-related ulcers. Bismuth subsalicylate, a component of Pepto-Bismol, is used to protect the stomach lining from acid. It also kills H. pylori. Treatment usually involves a combination of antibiotics, acid suppressors, and stomach protectors.
Early results of studies in other countries suggest that 1 week of triple therapy may be as effective as the 2-week therapy, with fewer side effects.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Stomach Ulcer
Most people with a stomach ulcer do not experience any symptoms. The most common symptom is burning pain in the upper abdomen. The pain can travel to the chest and neck, bellybutton, or back.
Other less common symptoms include:
- feeling full and bloated, or belching
- not being able to tolerate fatty foods
Sometimes, stomach ulcers can lead to more serious symptoms, such as:
- a sudden sharp pain in the stomach that gets worse
- vomiting blood
- blood in your stool or black, tarry stools
- weight loss
If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.
A Stomach Ulcer Is Caused When The Lining Of The Stomach Is Eroded Or Damaged This Can Lead To Stomach Pain And Bleeding If Left Untreated It Can Cause A Perforation
Stomach ulcers may be known as duodenal ulcers or dyspepsia. A peptic ulcer is an ulcer that has formed in the lining of the stomach or the early sections of the small intestine. This may also be known as a gastric ulcer. The gastrointestinal tract contains a lining that protects it from the acid produced by the stomach. When this lining breaks down or stops working correctly, the tissue beneath can become inflamed, resulting in an ulcer. If this becomes severe it can cause a perforation in the intestines, which can be quite dangerous.
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Stomach Ulcer Diagnosis And Conventional Treatment
If you suspect you have a stomach ulcer, see your doctor to first rule out other causes of your pain. In order to diagnose a stomach ulcer, your doctor may perform an endoscopy, which allows the doctor to view the inside lining of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Once a diagnosis is verified, treatment options can begin.
Your doctor will likely take your medical history and perform a physical exam along with a blood test, plus ask you about your past use of medications and possibly do an X-ray to locate a stomach ulcer. Testing the blood for H. pylori, plus doing a urea breath test and/or stool test to look for the presence of H. pylori antigens, are common ways to diagnose an ulcer.
The goal of stomach ulcer treatments is to help reduce pain and inflammation in the digestive tract, boost the immune system to fight H. pylori bacteria, prevent complications, and lower the chance for future ulcers from forming or returning.
Today, conventional treatment options for stomach ulcers include:
Secondary Signs And Symptoms Of Stomach Ulcers In Adults
While the most common stomach ulcer symptoms in adults have already been listed, there are also some secondary symptoms that can occur. These symptoms may not be as noticeable or as likely to be connected to stress ulcers, but they can be caused by ulcers either way.
Secondary symptoms of stress ulcers can include mood changes, such as anxiety or depression. As well, stress ulcers can cause other symptoms such as fatigue, malaise, difficulty sleeping, headaches, migraines, sinus problems, and skin problems. If any one or a combination of these occurs, particularly in conjunction with the more common symptoms, it could be a good indication that you may be suffering from a stress ulcer.
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Stomach Ulcer Treatment Plan: 4 Natural Treatments
1. Boost Immunity Against H.pylori
Many people host H. pylori in their bodies, but only a minority of people infected with H. pylori develop ulcers. A highly inflammatory lifestyle weakens the immune system and makes the digestive system more susceptible to an infection caused by H. pylori bacterium. H. pylori itself can then cause even more inflammation within the stomach and small intestine, creating a vicious cycle thats hard to break.
Research shows that today about 30 percent to 40 percent of people in the U.S. get an H. pylori infection, but usually the infection remains dormant, without any noticeable symptoms emerging for years or even ever. Other research suggests that H. pylori is present in more than 90 percent of duodenal ulcers and about 80 percent of stomach ulcers.
H. pylori contributes to ulcers by damaging the mucous coating that protects the lining of the stomach and duodenum from acids. Once damaged, stomach acid is able to get through to the sensitive lining, causing burning and irritation. H. pylori can be spread through unclean water, food or utensils, plus through bodily fluids but its only likely to cause an ulcer when someones immunity is low for other reasons.
You can also protect yourself from H. pylori infection by frequently washing your hands with soap and water and by eating foods that have been cooked completely.
2. Limit Use of NSAID Pain Relievers
3. Manage Stress
4. Eat A Stomach Ulcer Diet