ULCER

Ulcers occur when stomach acid damages the lining of the digestive tract. Common causes include the bacteria H. Pylori and anti-inflammatory pain relievers including aspirin.

Upper abdominal pain is a common symptom.

Treatment usually includes medication to decrease stomach acid production. If it is caused by bacteria, antibiotics may be required.

Requires a medical diagnosis

Upper abdominal pain is a common symptom.

People may experience:

Pain areas: in the chest or upper abdomen

Pain circumstances: can occur at night

Pain types: can be dull

Gastrointestinal: heartburn, indigestion, nausea, passing excessive amounts of gas, or vomiting

Also common: abdominal discomfort

reatment consists of antacids

Treatment usually includes medication to decrease stomach acid production. If it is caused by bacteria, antibiotics may be required.

Medications

Antibiotics

Stops the growth of or kills bacteria.

Proton-Pump inhibitor

Decreases acid release in the stomach.

Penicillin antibiotic

Stops growth of or kills specific bacteria.

Diarrhoea Medication

Reduces frequency and urgency of bowel movements.

Antacid

Counteracts the effects of stomach acid.

Medical procedure

Therapeutic endoscopy

Using a lighted medical instrument to see inside the body and provide treatment. For example, to stop bleeding or remove a foreign object.

Specialists

Primary Care Provider (PCP)

Prevents, diagnoses and treats diseases.

What is a stomach ulcer?

Stomach ulcers, which are also known as gastric ulcers, are painful sores in the stomach lining. Stomach ulcers are a type of peptic ulcer disease. Peptic ulcers are any ulcers that affect both the stomach and small intestines.

Stomach ulcers occur when the thick layer of mucus that protects your stomach from digestive juices is reduced. This allows the digestive acids to eat away at the tissues that line the stomach, causing an ulcer.

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

CAUSES

What causes stomach ulcers?

Stomach ulcers are almost always caused by one of the following:

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

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of stomach ulcers

A number of symptoms are associated with stomach ulcers. The severity of the symptoms depends on the severity of the ulcer.

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

Did You Know?

Stomach ulcers are common. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, an estimated 4 million Americans have peptic ulcer disease, which includes duodenal ulcers.

Other common signs and symptoms of ulcers include:

  • dull pain in the stomach
  • weight loss
  • not wanting to eat because of pain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • bloating
  • feeling easily full
  • burping or acid reflux
  • heartburn (burning sensation in the chest)
  • pain that may improve when you eat, drink, or take antacids
  • anemia (symptoms can include tiredness, shortness of breath, or paler skin)
  • dark, tarry stools
  • vomit that’s bloody or looks like coffee grounds

Talk to your doctor if you have any symptoms of a stomach ulcer. Even though discomfort may be mild, ulcers can worsen if they aren’t treated. Bleeding ulcers can become life-threatening.

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DIAGNOSIS

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 you’re taking.

To rule out H. pylori infection, a blood, stool, or breath test may be ordered. With a breath test, you’ll 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 swallowYou drink a thick white liquid (barium) that coats your upper gastrointestinal tract and helps your doctor see your stomach and small intestine on X-rays.
  • Endoscopy (EGD): 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.

TREATMENT

Treating stomach ulcers

Treatment will vary depending on the cause of your ulcer. Most ulcers can be treated with a prescription from your doctor, but in rare cases, surgery may be required.

It’s important to promptly treat an ulcer. Talk to your doctor to discuss a treatment plan. If you have an actively bleeding ulcer, you’ll likely be hospitalized for intensive treatment with endoscopy and IV ulcer medications. You may also require a blood transfusion.

Nonsurgical treatment

If your stomach ulcer is the result of H. pylori, you’ll need antibiotics and drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs block the stomach cells that produce acid.

In addition to these treatments, your doctor may also recommend:

  • H2 receptor blockers (drugs that also block acid production)
  • stopping use of all NSAIDs
  • follow-up endoscopy
  • probiotics (useful bacteria that may have a role in killing off H. pylori)
  • bismuth supplement

Symptoms of an ulcer may subside quickly with treatment. But even if your symptoms disappear, you should continue to take any medication prescribed by your doctor. This is especially important with H. pylori infections, to make sure that all bacteria are eliminated.

Side effects of medications used to treat stomach ulcers can include:

These side effects are typically temporary. If any of these side effects cause extreme discomfort, talk to your doctor about changing your medication.

Surgical treatment

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

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

Surgery may include:

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

Sources: College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and others. Learn more

SYMPTOMS OF A GASTRIC ULCER

Gastric ulcers have complications
that you need to be aware of…

The symptoms of a gastric ulcer are fairly simple to identify. Gastric ulcers are common, but they can lead to serious complications if not attended to properly, and this is why you need to know some vital facts we reveal below – facts that most doctors won’t tell you about. We also recommend that you waste no time in learning why the answer to your good health lies in removing the cause of the problem.

List of Symptoms

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms then you should get checked out for the presence of a gastric ulcer. You will need to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

The signs and symptoms of a gastric ulcer are almost opposite to the signs and symptoms of duodenal ulcers – the main differences are noticed in the timing and severity of the pain.

  •   Gastric ulcers generally cause a dull aching pain, often right after eating.
  •   Making a meal can often cause an increase in pain
  •   Eating will not relieve pain as is the case with other types of ulcers
  •   Indigestion and heartburn, or acid reflux
  •   Nagging pain in the upper abdomen area below your breastbone
  •   Episodes of nausea
  •   A noticeable loss of appetite
  •   Unplanned weight loss
  •   Another less common symptom of a gastric ulcer is that about 3 in every 10 people are woken up at night by dull ulcer pains – this usually happens 3- 4 hours after eating.

A sore that develops on the lining of the oesophagus, stomach or small intestine.