What is a stomach ulcer or gastric ulcer?
Stomach ulcers, which can also be called gastric ulcers, are painful sores in the stomach lining. Stomach ulcers are a type of peptic ulcer disease.
Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is a break in the inner lining of the stomach, the first part of the small intestine, or sometimes the lower esophagus.
An ulcer in the stomach is called a gastric ulcer, while one in the first part of the intestines is a duodenal ulcer.
Stomach ulcers happen when the thick layer of mucus that protects your stomach from digestive juices is decreased.
This permits the digestive acids to eat away in the tissues that line the gut, resulting in an ulcer.
Stomach ulcers might be easily cured, but they can become severe without appropriate treatment.
What causes stomach ulcers or gastric ulcers?
Stomach ulcers are nearly always caused by one of the following:
- Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen
- An infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
Rarely, a condition known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (ZES) 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 peptic ulcers.
Symptoms of stomach ulcers:
There is a number of symptoms are related to stomach ulcers. The seriousness of the symptoms is dependent on the seriousness of the ulcer.
The most common symptom is a burning sensation or pain at the center of the stomach between your chest and belly button.
Typically, the pain will be intense when your belly is empty, and it can last for a few minutes to many hours.
Some common signs and symptoms of ulcers may include:
- dull pain in the stomach
- weight loss
- not need to eat due to pain
- vomiting or nausea
- feeling easily full
- heartburn (a burning sensation in the chest)
- acid reflux or burping
- pain that can improve when you eat, drink, or take antacids
- dark, tarry stools
- anemia (tiredness, shortness of breath, or paler skin)
- vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds
Talk to your doctor if you have any symptoms of a stomach ulcer. Though discomfort may be mild, ulcers can worsen if they aren’t treated. Bleeding ulcers can become life-threatening.
How are stomach ulcers treated or diagnosed?
Diagnosis and treatment will depend on the severity and the symptoms 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 medication you are taking.
To rule out H. pylori infection, a blood, stool, or breath test may be ordered. Using a breath test, you will be taught to drink a crystal clear liquid and then breathe into a bag, which is then sealed.
If H.pylori is there, then the breath sample will contain higher-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide.
- Endoscopy (EGD): A thin, lighted tube is inserted through your mouth and to the stomach and the first portion of the small intestine.
- Barium swallow: You drink a thick white liquid (barium) that coats your upper gastrointestinal tract and helps your doctor to see your stomach and small intestine on your X-rays.
- Endoscopic biopsy: A part of stomach tissue is removed so that it can be analyzed at a lab.
Explore the interactive 3-D diagram below to learn more about stomach ulcers.
Treatment for stomach ulcers:
Treating will vary depending upon the cause of your ulcer.
It is important to immediately take care of an ulcer. Talk with your doctor to talk about a treatment plan.
In case you have an actively bleeding ulcer, you’ll probably be hospitalized to get intensive treatment with endoscopy and IV ulcer medications. You could also want a blood transfusion.
If your stomach ulcer is the result of H. pylori, you are going to want antibiotics and drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs block the stomach cells which produce acid.
Along with these treatments, your doctor can also recommend:
- H2 receptor blockers (medications that also block acid production)
- Stopping use of all NSAIDs
- Follow-up endoscopy
- Probiotics (useful bacteria that Might Have a part in killing H. pylori)
- Bismuth nutritional supplement
Symptoms of an ulcer may subside quickly with treatment. But if your symptoms disappear, you need to continue to take any medication prescribed by your physician.
This is particularly important with H. pylori infections, to be certain that all bacteria are eliminated.
Side effects of drugs used to treat stomach ulcers might include:
These side effects are typically temporary. If any of these side effects cause intense discomfort, talk to your doctor about changing your medicine.
In very rare cases, a complicated stomach ulcer will require surgery. This Might Be the situation for ulcers that:
- Continue to come back
- Don’t heal
- Tear throughout the stomach
- Keep food from flowing from the stomach into the small intestine
- Elimination of the entire ulcer
- Taking tissue from another part of the intestines and patching it on the ulcer site
- Linking off a bleeding artery
- Cutting the nerve supply to the gut to Decrease the production of stomach acid
In addition, we know that while the foods that you eat won’t cause or treat a stomach ulcer, eating a healthy diet may benefit your intestinal tract and overall health.
Generally speaking, it’s a fantastic idea to consume a diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and fiber.
Having said that, it’s likely that some foods play a part in eliminating H. pylori. Foods that may help fight off H. pylori or enhance your body’s own Wholesome bacteria include:
- Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
- Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower
- Olive oil
Additionally, since individuals with stomach ulcers might have uncontrollable acid reflux disease, it’s a good idea to avoid hot and sour foods while an ulcer is healing.
Learn more about foods that may be good for stomach ulcers — and meals that may not be.
In addition to eating healthy foods, these items may lower the effects of H. pylori, the bacteria responsible for many stomach ulcers.
However, these supplements are not meant to replace prescription medication or your current treatment program.
- Glutamine (food sources include fish, poultry, eggs, spinach, and cabbage)
Your physician may also have suggestions for items you can do at home to relieve discomfort from your ulcer. Think about talking to your doctor about those natural and home remedies for ulcers.
When should you see a physician?
If you believe you have a stomach ulcer, call your physician. If you do not have a physician, you may use the Healthline FindCare tool to discover a supplier near you.
It is important to get a stomach ulcer taken care of because, without treatment, ulcers and H. pylori may cause:
- Bleeding from the ulcer site 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, that occurs when the ulcer Makes a hole in the walls of the digestive tract
- Obstruction (blockage) in the digestive tract and can be due to swelling of inflamed tissues
- Gut cancer, especially non-cardia gastric cancer
Symptoms of these complications may include those listed under. In Case You Have any of these symptoms, Make Sure You call your doctor right away:
- Trouble breathing
- Reddish or black vomit or stools
- Sudden, sharp pain in your abdomen that doesn’t go away
Prevention of stomach ulcers:
To prevent the spread of germs that may cause a stomach ulcer, clean your hands with water and soap on a regular basis.
Also, be certain to properly wash all your food and to cook it completely as needed.
To stop ulcers caused by NSAIDs, stop using these medications (if possible) or limit their usage.
If you have to take NSAIDs, then be sure to follow the recommended dosage and prevent alcohol when taking these medications. And always take these medications with food and adequate liquids.
Ask your friends and loved ones for support.
If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, consider joining a support group or seeking counseling. Believe in your ability to take control of the pain…
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