What is stomach ulcer? What causes ulcers? What are the symptoms? How is it treated? Is it a serious situation? You can find the answers to all these questions and much more below.
What is stomach ulcer?
A stomach ulcer , also known as an ulcer or peptic ulcer , is a type of sore that forms in the lining of the stomach. Ulcer symptoms include abdominal pain , sometimes bleeding, and other digestive symptoms. The most common cause of ulcer is infection associated with the bacteria Helicobacter Pylori . Other risk factors for ulcers include alcohol use and long-term use of various medications. Various digestive system diseases have also been associated with the development of ulcers.
Symptoms of stomach ulcers may be constant or irregular, and the course of the disease varies from person to person. If Helicobacter Pylori is the cause of the ulcer, you will continue to experience symptoms unless the infection is treated. Some people with ulcers have no symptoms, while others may have heartburn , severe nausea, and vomiting.
If the cause of the stomach ulcer is Helicobacter Pylori bacteria, then the ulcer can be successfully treated with antibiotics. For ulcers not related to bacteria, treatment may be antacids or other medications that your doctor will prescribe. You can also reduce your risk of infection by washing fresh foods before consuming them and following common-sense hygiene practices by taking care of yourself.
You should see a doctor if you experience severe, writhing stomach pain , blood in your stools , or tarry stools and similar ulcer symptoms. If you are being treated for ulcers but still have symptoms, it is still very important to see your doctor.
What are the symptoms of stomach ulcer?
Stomach ulcers cause inflammation and damage to the lining of the stomach. The sores in the stomach lining caused by this inflammation cause a variety of symptoms. Symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.
Common symptoms of stomach ulcer
You may experience stomach ulcer symptoms every day or only once in a while. For many people, symptoms get worse after eating. Sometimes, however, you may experience the following common symptoms severe.
Common symptoms of ulcer include:
- Abdominal bloating
- stomach burn
- Stomach ache
- feeling of fullness
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
Serious symptoms of stomach ulcer
In some cases, stomach ulcers can be life-threatening. If you or a loved one has any of the following serious symptoms, it is recommended that you seek medical attention immediately:
- Bloody stools (the blood may be red, black, or tarry)
- severe abdominal pain
- vomiting blood or black matter (resembling coffee grounds)
What causes stomach ulcers?
A stomach infection associated with Helicobacter Pylori bacteria is the most common cause of ulcer. Bacteria affect stomach acid and act on the lining of the stomach, making the stomach more vulnerable to acid and digestive juices. Because of this, over time, breaks occur in the lining, which can continue to wear away and create a scar. Prolonged use of alcohol, tobacco, and certain drugs can also lead to ulcers. In addition, having severe illness or receiving radiation therapy has also been associated with ulcers.
What are the risk factors for stomach ulcers?
Although a number of factors increase the risk of developing stomach ulcers, not everyone with risk factors will develop ulcers. Risk factors for ulcers include:
- Alcohol addiction (alcoholism)
- Family history of stomach or duodenal ulcer
- Infection by Helicobacter Pylori
- Radiation therapy history
- Regularly taking medications such as ibuprofen , naproxen, and aspirin
- stress or serious illness
- Use of tobacco and tobacco products
Reducing your risk
You can reduce your risk of developing stomach ulcers by:
- Completing full course of antibiotics if diagnosed with Helicobacter Pylori infection
- Avoiding or minimizing alcohol consumption
- Not taking any medication without your doctor’s prescription
- Avoiding tobacco and tobacco products
How is a stomach ulcer diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose an ulcer based on information about the medications you are taking, a physical exam, and your health history. It is important to tell your doctor about all over-the-counter/prescription medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements you take. Laboratory tests and, in some cases, imaging tests may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis or determine the cause.
Diagnostic and imaging tests for ulcers include:
- Helicobacter Pylori test:
It is done through a sample of breath, blood or stool.
You swallow barium in a liquid and this gives an internal view.
Camera binoculars are inserted into your mouth and throat to examine the stomach lining.
How is stomach ulcer treated?
Treatment of stomach ulcers depends in part on the cause. If the likely cause is the anti-inflammatory drugs you are using, stopping the use will help the ulcer heal. If you normally take anti-inflammatory drugs for a chronic condition, your doctor will advise you about alternative anti-inflammatory drugs.
If the cause is Helicobacter Pylori bacterial infection, the mainstay of treatment is antibiotic therapy. It is important to complete antibiotic therapy to avoid re-infection or recurrence. Commonly, you take various antibiotics for 14 days and you should not miss this treatment.
Antibiotic treatments to treat ulcer caused by Helicobacter Pylori include:
Other medicines to treat stomach ulcers
The standard treatment for stomach ulcers is “triple therapy” consisting of two antibiotics and an acid reducer. Medications that reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, such as proton pump inhibitors and histamine H2-receptor antagonists, may be prescribed for 4 to 8 weeks or longer.
Proton pump inhibitors that are effective in treating ulcers include:
Histamine H2-receptor antagonists that are effective in the treatment of ulcers include:
You can also use a variety of prescription medications to protect the stomach lining while the ulcer heals. If you have symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, electrolyte replenishment is also a component of successful treatment. Surgery, on the other hand, may only be necessary if there are complications of ulcers, such as major bleeding or a hole in the stomach.
Home care and lifestyle tips for stomach ulcers
You can do the following to reduce ulcer healing time:
- Don’t smoke:
Smoking affects the stomach acid of the digestive system in several ways, prolonging recovery time. Quitting smoking will be good for your ulcer.
- Don’t drink alcohol:
Drinking alcohol irritates the lining of the digestive tract and can hinder ulcer healing. You may want to consider quitting or reducing alcohol as much as possible.
Emotional stress does not cause ulcers, but can hinder healing. You can practice stress reduction techniques such as exercise and meditation.
- Take acetaminophen:
If you have ulcers, you can consult your doctor or pharmacist to get a medicine containing acetaminophen for you.
Diet and nutrition tips for stomach ulcers
In general, focus on a healthy diet high in fiber and avoid foods and beverages that cause digestive problems or worsen ulcer symptoms, including alcohol and spicy products. A high-fiber diet can help prevent new ulcers from forming. If you’re not used to a high-fiber diet, you can start slowly with small portions.
A healthy diet naturally contains many sources of fiber, including:
- Fruits and vegetables (especially apples, pears, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts)
- Legumes such as lentils, peas, and black beans
- Seeds and nuts
- Whole grains such as barley, oat bran, and oatmeal
Dietary restrictions include substances that tend to increase stomach acid production, such as:
- Caffeinated drinks
You should consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.
Tips for dealing with stomach ulcers
The following strategies can improve your health-related quality of life and help prevent disease complications:
- Follow your treatment plan as directed by your doctor.
- Focus on a healthy lifestyle that includes exercising regularly, eating healthy meals, not smoking, limiting alcohol, and getting enough sleep and sunlight.
- Increase your social interactions.
- If you have concerns, let your doctor know.
Potential complications of stomach ulcer
Possible complications of ulcer include:
- Internal bleeding (bleeding) is the most common complication. Bleeding usually stops on its own, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine , but about 25% of cases require surgery.
- Perforation of the stomach, also known as perforated ulcer
- severe discomfort or pain
- Spread of infection
Frequently asked Questions
How long does it take for a stomach ulcer to heal?
It may take several weeks for the ulcer to heal with medications prescribed by your doctor. Eating a healthy diet, limiting or quitting alcohol, and not smoking can further speed recovery.
Does stomach ulcer go away on its own?
Yeah. Ulcers can also heal on their own by not using medication and reducing risk factors. However, if the cause of the ulcer is Helicobacter Pylori and you do not receive treatment, the ulcer is unlikely to heal.
Will a stomach ulcer get better?
Yes, the ulcer will heal quickly if you follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
What should patients with gastric ulcer eat?
Patients with stomach ulcers can eat foods such as cabbage, radishes, apples, strawberries, cherries and carrots.
Does it kill stomach ulcers?
No, it does not kill ulcers if treated. However, it can become serious if left untreated.
Can stomach ulcer be operated?
An ulcer that does not heal despite treatments may require surgery.