Stomach Ulcer: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Stomach ulcer – Overview Stomach ulcers, or are also known as gastric ulcers, are painful sores in the stomach lining. Stomach ulcers are a type of peptic ulcer disease. Any ulcers which are affecting both the stomach and small intestines are known as peptic ulcers When the thick layer of mucus that protects the stomach from digestive […]

Stomach ulcer – Overview

Stomach ulcers, or are also known as gastric ulcers, are painful sores in the stomach lining. Stomach ulcers are a type of peptic ulcer disease. Any ulcers which are affecting both the stomach and small intestines are known as peptic ulcers

When the thick layer of mucus that protects the stomach from digestive juices is decreased, stomach ulcers occur. This helps in allowing the digestive acids to eat away at the tissues that line the stomach, and then causing an ulcer.

Stomach ulcers may be cured easily, but without proper treatment they can become severe.

Causes – Stomach ulcers

Stomach ulcers are almost caused every time by one of the following:

  • Bacterium infection Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • Usage of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen in long term

Very unlikely, a condition known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers by increasing the acid production in body. This syndrome is prone to cause less than 1 percent of all peptic ulcers.

Symptoms – stomach ulcers

A number of symptoms are attached with stomach ulcers. The more the severe symptoms are, the more the severity of ulcer.

Symptom which is most common in ulcer is a burning sensation or pain in the middle of your abdomen between the chest and belly button. Typically, when the stomach is empty the pain will increase to be more intense, and it can last for a few minutes to several hours.

Other signs and symptoms of ulcers may include:

  • dull pain in the stomach
  • weight loss
  • Because of pain not wanting to eat
  • nauseaor vomiting
  • bloating
  • feeling easily full
  • burping or acid reflux
  • heartburn, that is burning felt in the chest
  • pain that may improve when eating, drinking, or taking antacids
  • anemia symptoms can include tiredness, shortness of breath, or paler skin
  • dark, tarry stools
  • Bloody vomit or vomit looks like coffee grounds

Doctor should be consulted if having any symptoms of a stomach ulcer. Even though discomfort may not be intense, ulcers can worsen if they aren’t treated. Ulcers that bleed can become life-threatening.

Diagnosis – Stomach Ulcers

Diagnosis and treatment are dependent on the symptoms and the severity of the ulcer. A stomach ulcer to be diagnosed, medical history will be reviewed by the doctor along with the symptoms and any prescription or over-the-counter medications being taken

To cancel out H. pylori infection, a blood, stool, or breath test may be ordered. With a breath test, instruction will be given to drink a clear liquid and breathe into a bag, which is then sealed. If H. pylori infection is present, then the breath sample will contain higher-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide.

To diagnose stomach ulcers, other test and procedures may include:

  • Barium swallowA thick white liquid (barium) is drank that coats the upper gastrointestinal tract and helps the doctor to see the stomach and small intestine on X-rays.
  • Endoscopy(EGD): A thin, lighted tube is inserted through the mouth and then inside the stomach and the first part of the small intestine. To look for ulcers, bleeding, and any tissue that looks abnormal this test is conducted
  • Endoscopic biopsy:Removal of a piece of stomach tissue is done so it can be analyzed in a lab.

Treatment – Stomach Ulcers

Treatment will differ depending on the cause of the ulcer. Most ulcers can be treated with a prescription given by the doctor, but in rare cases, requirement of a surgery may occur.

It’s vital to promptly treat an ulcer. A treatment plan should be discussed with the doctor. If the ulcer is actively bleeding, there will be a need to be hospitalized for intensive treatment with endoscopy and IV ulcer medications. A blood transfusion may also be required

Nonsurgical treatment

If the stomach ulcer is the result of H. pylori infection, then antibiotics and drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) will be needed. PPIs helps in blocking the stomach cells that produce acid.

With an addition to these treatments, the doctor may also suggest:

  • H2 receptor blockersdrugs that block acid production also
  • stopping use of all NSAIDs
  • follow-up endoscopy
  • probioticswhich is a useful bacteria that may have a role in killing off  pylori
  • bismuth supplement

Symptoms of an ulcer may moderate quickly with treatment. But even after the symptoms have disappeared, any medication prescribed by the doctor should be continued. This is especially necessary with H. pylori infections, in order to make sure that all bacteria are eliminated.

Side effects of medications being used in treating stomach ulcers can include:

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain

These side effects are not permanent. If any of these side effects is causing extreme discomfort, doctor should be consulted about changing the medication.

Surgical treatment

In very few cases, a surgery will be required for a complicated stomach ulcer. This may be the case for ulcers that:

  • continue to recur
  • don’t heal
  • bleed
  • tear through the stomach
  • keep food from flowing out of the stomach into the small intestine

Surgery may include:

  • entire ulcer removal
  • tissue to be taken from another part of the intestines and patching it over the ulcer site
  • tying off a bleeding artery
  • The nerve supply to be cut off to the stomach to reduce the production of stomach acid

Healthy diet

Previously, it was thought that ulcers can be caused by diet. This is not the case as we know now. It is also known that while the foods being consumed won’t cause or cure a stomach ulcer but eating a healthful diet can be beneficial to the intestinal tract and overall health.

Generally, it’s a good idea to eat a diet with includes a lots of fruits, vegetables, and fiber.

It’s possible that some foods can play a role in removing H. pylori infection. Foods that may help in fighting off H. pylori infection or boosting the body’s own healthy bacteria include:

  • broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and radishes
  • leafy greens, such as spinach and kale
  • probiotic-rich foods, such as sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, yogurt (especially with lactobacillusand Sacharomyces)
  • apples
  • blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries
  • olive oil

In addition, since people are accompanied with acid reflux disease with stomach ulcers, it is a good idea in avoiding from spicy and sour foods while an ulcer is healing.

Home remedies – stomach ulcers

The below items may help in reducing the effects of H. pylori infection in addition to consuming healthy foods, the bacteria which is responsible for many stomach ulcers. However, these supplements are not intended to change the prescription medication or the current treatment plan. They include:

  • probiotics
  • honey
  • glutamine (food sources include chicken, fish, eggs, spinach, and cabbage)

The doctor may also have recommendations for things can be done at home in relieving the discomfort from thw ulcer. The doctor should be consulted regarding natural and home remedies for stomach ulcers

Doctor Consultation

If a stomach ulcer is thought to be having, call the doctor. Together the symptoms and treatment options can be discussed. It’s crucial to get a stomach ulcer to be treated  because without treatment, ulcers and H. pylori can cause:

  • the ulcer site to be bleeding that can become life-threatening
  • penetration of the ulcer 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 a hole is created by the ulcer in the wall of the digestive tract
  • blockage in the digestive tract, which is because of swelling of inflamed tissues
  • stomach cancer, specifically non-cardia gastric cancer

The below list can be the Symptoms of these complications. If having any of these symptoms, the doctor should be consulted right away:

  • weakness
  • trouble breathing
  • red or black vomitor stools
  • sudden, sharp pain in your abdomen that doesn’t go away

Prevention – stomach ulcers

In order to prevent the spreading of bacteria that might cause a stomach ulcer, wash the hands with soap and water on a regular basis. Also, be sure to thoroughly clean all of tbe food and to cook it thoroughly as needed.

To prevent ulcers which are caused by NSAIDs, stop the usage of these medications (if possible) or limit their use. If NSAIDs are to be needed, be sure to follow the suggested dosage and alcohol to be avoided while taking these medications. And always these medications should be taken with food and adequate liquids.

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