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What Is An Ulcer In Your Stomach

What Are The Symptoms Of Stomach Ulcer

What Is an Ulcer? | Stomach Problems
  • The most concerning sign is coughing or vomiting blood as it indicates that the erosion of the stomach wall is quite far along.
  • Another sign could include dark stools as a result of blood that has been processed through the digestive tract and is now being excreted in the stool, more formally known as melena.
  • Bloating,
  • Weight loss in extreme cases as the pain affects appetite.

Q: Can An Ulcer Be Completely Cured

A: If you have peptic ulcer disease, which can involve stomach ulcers and/or duodenal ulcers of the small intestine, the answer is yes! These ulcers can be completely healed.

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The development of H2 blockers and then Proton Pump Inhibitors allow for most ulcers to be completely healed with medication. With these treatment developments, surgery for peptic ulcer disease is seldom needed.

These types of ulcers are caused primarily by three things: Stomach acids, H. pylori infections and medications, such as aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen .

Contrary to popular belief, the normal stress of day-to-day life does not cause or contribute to ulcers. Also, theres no genetic link involved with the risk for developing ulcers, and diet has no effect on the healing of an ulcer either.

How Are Ulcers Treated

Some mild cases of ulcers may not need medical attention as they will heal on their own. However, not seeking proper medical treatment may result in these ulcers coming back.

Antibioticsare normally prescribed to eliminate the infection, and sometimes an acidreducer. They may be prescribed to be taken twice a day for 1 to 2 weeks.

If NSAIDs are causing the ulcers, a doctor may prescribe a protective medication to take along with it.

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Common Symptoms Of Peptic Ulcer And When To Seek Medical Help

The very mention of the word ulcer is likely to cause an internal, evidently physical discomfort. Thats exactly what peptic ulcers do. They cause a difficult-to-ignore burning pain in your stomach, sometimes in the dead of night, capable of stirring you awake. Misjudging this pain to be a simple case of indigestion may be your natural reaction. However, if this has been happening frequently, do not carelessly dismiss it because pain is your bodys way of signaling you to take care of yourself.

To make some sense and understand where the malfunction lies, we first need to understand what peptic ulcers are.

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What Is a Stomach Ulcer? Gastroenterologists Explain ...

You can feel your breathing and heart rate increase, your stomach start churning, all while a light sweat breaks out on your face lending a sheen to your complexion that reflects the morning light. This is not how you planned to start your morning. What if there were worse conditions and symptoms lurking at bay, also related to stress? Let’s find out.

Owen Wiseman

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What Are The Causes

Contrary to popular belief, stress and spicy foods do not cause stomach ulcers. They may aggravate an already existing ulcer but definitely not be the cause for one.

To clarify, ulcers are typically caused by an infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori .

Another cause of stomach ulcers is the long-term use of pain medications known as NSAIDs . NSAIDs can weaken the stomach linings ability to resist acid made in the stomach.

Aspirin,ibuprofen, or naproxen are some examples of NSAID medications.

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
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettesmoking
  • 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.

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What To Expect On The Day Of Surgery

When you go to your surgery appointment, you will register and sign a consent form. You may have some pre-operative testing before you go to the pre-surgical area. These tests may include a chest X-ray, CBC, blood chemistry panel, and a urine test.

You will be asked to change into a hospital gown. You will have your temperature, blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, and oxygen level checked.

If you are having stomach ulcer surgery for an emergency, like a perforation, your preparation will happen quickly. You will need to have IV fluids and possibly a blood transfusion during this period.

Other Causes Of Peptic Ulcers

What causes stomach ulcers?
  • Genetics: A significant number of individuals with peptic ulcers have close relatives with the same problem, suggesting that genetic factors may be involved.
  • Smoking: People who regularly smoke tobacco are more likely to develop peptic ulcers when compared with non-smokers.
  • Alcohol consumption: Regular heavy drinkers of alcohol have a higher risk of developing peptic ulcers.
  • Corticosteroid use: People on large or chronic doses of corticosteroids are also at greater risk.
  • Mental stress: This stress has not been linked to the development of new peptic ulcers, but symptoms appear to be more severe in people with ulcers who are experiencing ongoing mental stress.

A patientâs description of symptoms will normally cause a doctor to suspect a peptic ulcer.

Tests that can confirm a diagnosis include:

  • a blood test to check for H. pylori, though a positive test does not always mean there is an active infection
  • a breath test, using a radioactive carbon atom to detect H. pylori
  • a stool antigen test to detect H. pylori in the feces
  • an upper gastrointestinal X-ray to identify ulcers

An endoscopy may also be used. This involves a long, narrow tube with a camera attached to the end is threaded down the patientâs throat and into the stomach and duodenum. This is the best diagnostic test.

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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.

Purpose Of Stomach Ulcer Surgery

Peptic ulcers can cause pain, stomach discomfort, abdominal cramps, decreased appetite, hematemesis, gastrointestinal bleeding, iron deficiency anemia , and malnutrition.

Generally, the condition can be effectively treated with medication and lifestyle changes, rather than with surgical intervention. Smoking and alcohol use can contribute to stomach ulcers, and stopping these habits can help an ulcer heal. Sometimes dietary modifications, like avoiding spicy foods, can help control symptoms.

Treatments for gastric ulcers include proton pump inhibitors and antibiotics to eradicateHelicobacter pylori, a bacteria that is commonly associated with stomach ulcers.

Surgical management may be needed for complications of peptic ulcer disease or for treatment of a stomach ulcer that doesn’t improve despite conservative management.

Issues that may warrant surgical intervention for the treatment of peptic ulcer disease include:

These issues can cause persistent and serious health problems. Stomach ulcer surgery would be done to alleviate your symptoms and prevent consequences to your overall health.

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How To Treat An Ulcer In Your Stomach

It would help if you didnt treat a stomach ulcer on your own without first consulting your doctor.

Over-the-counter antacids and blockers may help some or all pain, but the relief is always short-lived. However, with a doctors help, you can see an end to ulcer pain as well as a permanent cure for it.

If a bacterial infection produces your ulcer, your doctor will also treat this.

Symptoms Of Peptic Ulcers

Stomach Ulcers

You may not have symptoms straightaway with an ulcer. Youre more likely to have a so-called silent ulcer if you are male, older, smoke, or are taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen.

If you do have symptoms, a common one is abdominal pain or discomfort. You may also have pain in the middle of your back. If you have a duodenal ulcer , the pain tends to come on a couple of hours after a meal. Generally, it goes away when you eat again. You may also have pain that wakes you up at night when you have an empty stomach.

A gastric ulcer generally causes pain shortly after eating. Lying flat may relieve it. An oesophageal ulcer may cause abdominal or lower chest pain and make it difficult to swallow.

Indigestion is often a sign of a peptic ulcer. You may:

  • feel or be sick
  • burp
  • have heartburn when the contents of your stomach go back up your oesophagus

Some symptoms may mean you have peptic ulcer complications. Or they can be caused by another medical condition, including cancer. You should see your GP urgently if you:

  • are losing weight without dieting
  • see blood in your vomit or your poo looks black and tar-like
  • are very tired, as this may be caused by anaemia
  • have trouble swallowing
  • feel full soon after youve started eating

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How Is A Peptic Ulcer Diagnosed

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, whether you take NSAIDs and other drugs, and medical history. Theyâll also check you for bloating in the belly and pain. That may be enough to make a diagnosis.

The only way your doctor can tell for sure if you have an ulcer is to look. They may use a series of X-rays or a test called an endoscopy. This test allows them to pass a thin, bendy tube down your throat and into your stomach and small intestine. The tube has a camera at the end so they can check the lining for ulcers. They may also take a small piece of the lining to test for H. pylori. Blood, breath, and stool sample tests also can screen for the bacteria.

Diagnosis Of A Stomach Ulcer

Diagnosing a stomach ulcer is done using a range of methods, including:

  • Endoscopy a thin flexible tube is threaded down the oesophagus into the stomach under light anaesthesia. The endoscope is fitted with a small camera so the physician can see if there is an ulcer.
  • Barium meal a chalky liquid is drunk and an x-ray is performed, showing the stomach lining. These tests are less common nowadays, but may be useful where endoscopy is unavailable.
  • Biopsy a small tissue sample is taken during an endoscopy and tested in a laboratory. This biopsy should always be done if a gastric ulcer is found.
  • C14 breath test this checks for the presence of H. pylori. The bacteria convert urea into carbon dioxide. The test involves swallowing an amount of radioactive carbon and testing the air exhaled from the lungs. A non-radioactive test can be used for children and pregnant women.

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Dull Pain In The Stomach

Dull and burning pain is the most common symptom of an ulcer. The pain is felt anywhere between the belly button and the breastbone. It can also travel out from the middle of the stomach up to the neck, down to the belly button, or through to the back.

Stomach acid helps break down and absorb the food consumed. Excess stomach acid makes the pain worse because it creates painful sores within the stomach.

This kind of pain is often more severewhenever the stomach is empty such as between meals or at night. Sometimes itcan also start a few hours after eating. This pain can last for several minutesto several hours. The burning pain is sometimes made better by eating or aggravatedbetween one and three hours after a meal. This occurs when food can no longerneutralize the acid produced by the stomach.

Taking antacids may help relieve some of the pain but it doesnt help cure the ulcer. The pain will just keep coming back. Eating certain foods can help buffer stomach acid.

What Other Changes Can Stress Cause

What Are The Different Types of Stomach Ulcers?

In certain individuals, changes in the secretion of stomach acid and mucous protecting the stomach tissue from the acid may lead to erosions in the tissue over time, a condition known as a gastric ulcer. While some research shows stress to be a direct cause of ulcers, current research has also shown that the experience of psychological stress influences health risk behaviours. These behaviours in themselves place the individual at a higher risk of developing an ulcer and include smoking, lack of sleep, and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

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How Do Tumors From Zes Cause Peptic Ulcers

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a rare disorder that happens when one or more tumors form in your pancreas and duodenum. The tumors release large amounts of gastrin, a hormone that causes your stomach to produce large amounts of acid. The extra acid causes peptic ulcers to form in your duodenum and in the upper intestine.

H Pylori Infection Treatment

Patients infected with H. pylori will usually need PPIs and antibiotics. This treatment is effective in most patients, and the ulcer will start to disappear within days. When treatment is over, the individual will have to be tested again to make sure the H. pylori have gone. If necessary, they will undergo another course of different antibiotics.

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A Dull Burning Or Hunger

Approximately 1 in 5 senior citizens suffering from abdominal pain are likely to have a peptic ulcer. Peptic ulcer disease accounts for 16 percent of older patients complaining of abdominal pain.5

The most predominant symptom of a peptic ulcer is abdominal discomfort a gnawing or burning pain between the navel and the breast bone being most evident.6

  • Duodenal ulcers generally cause a gnawing pain in the upper abdomen that encroaches on an empty stomach hours after eating.7 Eating some food may offer some relief.
  • Stomach ulcers, on the other hand, cause a dull ache on a full stomach or in the middle of the night.8 Consumption of food does not help and may only make matters worse.

Some individuals may experience an empty feeling in the stomach a pain that feels like hunger 1 to 3 hours after a meal.9

Peptic ulcer pain can last from a few minutes to hours and may intermittently keep troubling you over a span of days and even months.10

Signs You May Have A Stomach Ulcer

Ali Ghahary

We have absolutely warned our patients about the dangers of untreated ulcers in the past. However, we consider this to be an extremely important matter and therefore, we will continue to try to educate the people of Los Angeles, as well as those elsewhere on the most common symptoms of stomach ulcers. If you know the signs, you can see your doctor sooner rather than later when things have gotten especially bad. Continue reading below to get familiar with what these symptoms are.

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How Can I Prevent Ulcers

You may be able to prevent ulcers from forming if you:

  • Talk to your doctor about alternatives to NSAID medications to relieve pain.
  • Discuss protective measures with your doctor, if you cant stop taking an NSAID.
  • Opt for the lowest effective dose of NSAID and take it with a meal.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.

What Does A Stomach Ulcer Feels Like

Stomach ulcer pain usually begins in the upper middle part of the abdomen, above the belly button and below the breastbone. The pain may feel like burning or gnawing that may go through to the back. The onset of the pain may occur several hours after a meal when the stomach is empty. Patients have reported paint to be worse at night as opposed to the morning. Pain duration may vary from a few minutes to several hours. Pain may be relieved by foods, antacids or vomiting.

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How Are Ulcers Diagnosed

Your healthcare provider may be able to make the diagnosis just by talking with you about your symptoms. If you develop an ulcer and youre not taking NSAIDs, the cause is likely an H. pylori infection. To confirm the diagnosis, youll need one of these tests:

Endoscopy

If you have severe symptoms, your provider may recommend an upper endoscopy to determine if you have an ulcer. In this procedure, the doctor inserts an endoscope through your throat and into your stomach to look for abnormalities.

H. Pylori tests

Tests for H. pylori are now widely used and your provider will tailor treatment to reduce your symptoms and kill the bacteria. A breath test is the easiest way to discover H. pylori. Your provider can also look for it with a blood or stool test, or by taking a sample during an upper endoscopy.

Imaging tests

Less frequently, imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans are used to detect ulcers. You have to drink a specific liquid that coats the digestive tract and makes ulcers more visible to the imaging machines.

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