How Common Are Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers are very common in Western countries. In the United States, there are about 4 million cases per year. Some estimates say that 1 in 10 people will have one at some point in their lives. Thats because many of the causes that contribute to stomach ulcers are common in Western life. Fortunately, these causes are usually easy to trace and to reverse, giving ulcers a chance to heal and your stomach lining a chance to repair.
When Should You Call Or See A Doctor
If you think you have a stomach ulcer, call your doctor. Together you can discuss your symptoms and treatment options. If you dont already have a physician, you can use the Healthline FindCare tool to find a provider near you.
Its important to get a stomach ulcer taken care of because without treatment, ulcers and H. pylori can cause:
- bleeding from the ulcer site that 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, which occurs when the ulcer creates a hole in the wall of the digestive tract
- obstruction in the digestive tract, which is due to swelling of inflamed tissues
- stomach cancer, specifically
Symptoms of these complications can include those listed below. If you have any of these symptoms, be sure to call you doctor right away:
What Are The Symptoms Of Any Complications
Stomach ulcers can cause various complications but these are much less common now because of more effective treatments. However, complications can be very serious and include:
Bleeding from the ulcer
- This can range from a ‘trickle’ to a life-threatening bleed.
- If there is sudden heavy bleeding then this will cause you to vomit blood and make you feel very faint.
- Less sudden bleeding may cause you to vomit and the vomit looks coffee-coloured because the stomach acid has partly broken down the blood.
- A more gradual trickle of blood will pass through your gut and cause your stools to look very dark in colour or even black .
PerforationThis is the term used to describe the ulcer having gone all the way through the wall of the stomach. Food and acid in the stomach then leak out of the stomach. This usually causes severe pain and makes you very unwell. Stomach perforation is a medical emergency and needs hospital treatment as soon as possible.
Stomach blockageThis is now rare. An ulcer at the end of the stomach can cause the outlet of the stomach to narrow and cause an obstruction. This can cause frequent severe vomiting.
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Pain In The Chest Throat And Upper Body After Vomiting: Why
When you vomit, chances are you are not in the ideal state of health at the moment. Vomiting is a natural reaction by your body to expel something that will be noxious to your body to process. Some of the most common reasons for vomiting would be too much alcohol in your stomach, a reaction to some bad food you ingested or because of an illness like the flu. Even if the underlying etiologies may be different, the reason why you throw up is the same.
An unfortunate thing about vomiting is that you rarely feel much better after you regurgitate your last meals. Chances are, you will experience some type of pain in your chest, throat and upper body that can linger and still keep you in a low state of health. What this pain is and what are some of the possible explanations for why this happens is what I will address next.
If everything is working properly, the acid that we make is not able to escape the stomach but during vomiting or in cases of gastric reflux disease this acid escapes from the stomach and damages cellular tissue in our esophagus. This can feel like a severe pain in the chest, throat and upper body and if it happens routinely, you have the possibility of developing numerous types of cancers due to this acid damage.
Bleeding Ulcers Symptoms And Causes
Bleeding ulcers are a big deal. Often having endoscopy is diagnostic and therapeutic. A gastroenterologist can use a fiberoptic camera to view the inside of the stomach and duodenum, searching for a source of bleeding.
Symptoms of a bleeding ulcer include:
- Abdominal discomfort after eating
- Upper abdominal burning or hunger pain 1 to 3 hours after eating or in the middle of the night
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You Bleed When You Use The Bathroom
Blood coming from the gastrointestinal tract can signal a variety of underlying health issues, but Dr. Sengupta says when this bleeding is combined with upper abdominal pain, hes highly suspicious that its one of the signs of an ulcer. Many patients notice this blood either when vomiting, or when using the bathroom, as their stools may appear black. If you notice youre suffering from a bleeding GI tract, along with nausea and pain in the stomach or chest, Dr. Sengupta says doctors will often perform a blood test or an upper endoscopywhere they use a camera to look into the stomach itselfto check if an ulcer is the culprit. Blood in your stool can also be due to hemorrhoids or a symptom of colon cancer, so its a good idea to get checked out by your doctor.
You Have Heartburn At Most Meals
If you find yourself experiencing frequent heartburn, regardless of what you eat, an ulcer may be responsible. Many patients with ulcers describe feeling very intense chest pain, which often causes them to burp or hiccup more than usual after eating. In many cases, a simple over-the-counter antacid can be taken to temporarily alleviate some of the pain and gassiness, but if it persists day after day, its likely something more than a regular case of heartburn.
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How Is Peptic Ulcer Disease Diagnosed
Your doctor will do a physical exam. They will ask you questions about your medical history. Tell your doctor if you take aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen frequently. Your doctor will look for stomach bloating. They will listen to sounds in your stomach with a stethoscope. Your doctor will tap your stomach to check for pain.
Your doctor may schedule a special procedure to look at your stomach. This is called an endoscopy. For this procedure, youll be given medicine to relax. The medicine may make you fall asleep. The doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube down your throat. A tiny camera on the end of the tube displays the lining of your stomach and duodenum. The doctor may take a sample of your stomach lining . This is done to test for H. pylori. Blood, breath, and stool sample testing can also be used to check for H. pylori.
How Are Peptic Ulcers Treated
Peptic ulcers are treated with medicine that stops your stomach from making acid. If you have HP infection, you will need to take antibiotics and acid-reducing tablets for one to two weeks.
If you smoke, quitting will help your ulcers heal and will help stop them from coming back. If you are taking a medicine that may cause ulcers, your doctor can suggest a different one.
You should start to feel better within a few days or weeks of starting the medicine. Some people need to take medicines for four to eight weeks or longer. Tell your doctor if you still have symptoms, you lose weight, the pain gets worse, you see blood in your vomit, or you have black, tarry stools.
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Feel Like Throwing Up
We can feel like vomiting when we are exposed to an obnoxious stimulus, such as weird smells, seeing other vomit, etc. due to nervous stimulation. But what if there is nothing wrong in the environment and yet you still feel like vomiting? What are key factors and causative agents in such a case? You will get to know 12 possible reasons behind this condition.
Can You Stop Yourself From Vomiting
It really depends on the situation. Sometimes, vomiting is a necessary bodily function that ultimately protects you in the long run. For example, consuming enough alcohol to achieve a toxic level in your bloodstream will result in vomiting. In this circumstance, throwing up is your bodys attempt to return to a non-toxic level.
Another example is when the body vomits to rid itself of a bacterial infection like E. coli.
That said, if youre experiencing nausea due to something like motion sickness or stress, it is possible to prevent the vomiting stage.
Try some of these handy tips:
- Sit down or lie propped up
- Avoid physical activity
If you are the victim of frequent vomiting due to a health condition, it can wreak havoc on your body. In addition to irritating the stomach and esophagus, not to mention weight loss, frequent vomiting can also damage your teeth.
Each time you vomit, gastric acid is brought up from your stomach and into your mouth. Gastric acid is the harsh substance that is meant to break down your food during the digestive process.
Your mouth and teeth are not meant to sustain contact with this strong acid. When your mouth is repeatedly exposed to gastric acid, the result is damage to your teeth.
The acid attacks the enamel, the protective, hard coating on your teeth. Once that enamel wears away, your teeth can begin to erode.
What Can Happen as a Result of Frequent Vomiting
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Common Causes Of Vomiting Blood
If you vomit blood, it means there’s bleeding somewhere in your oesophagus , stomach or the first part of your small intestine .
Below is a summary of the most likely causes of blood in the vomit. It’s a rough guide that should give you a better idea of the problem.
Don’t use it to diagnose yourself always get assessment and treatment.
Fast Facts On Throat Ulcers:
- Treatment and management of throat ulcers will depend on what is causing them.
- Prognosis is typically good, especially for those who take their medications and follow their recommended diets.
- The pain caused by the ulcers can lead to a range of symptoms, such as difficulty eating, drinking, chewing, swallowing, or talking.
- ear pain
In the first instance, doctors will do a physical exam and evaluate a persons symptoms. They may then need to take throat cultures, using mouth swabs. Sometimes blood tests and urine tests may be required.
However, diagnosis of throat ulcers will depend on the suspected cause of the condition and may include:
Ulcers found in the throat may be related to or caused by:
- certain chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer
- bacterial infections
- fungal infections such as thrush, which is a yeast infection caused by Candida albicans
- viral infections, such as herpangina , and hand, foot and mouth disease, which are caused by Coxsackie A virus.
- conditions such as Behçets syndrome, which is an inflammatory disease that causes ulcers to form in the mouth, genitals, and other areas of the body
Ulcers found in the esophagus may be related to or caused by conditions such as:
Ulcers or granulomas found on the voice box may be related to or caused by conditions such as:
In some cases, simple lifestyle modifications may be all that is necessary, and these will be discussed in the section below.
Treatment of throat ulcers may include:
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What Tests Are There For A Stomach Ulcer
If your doctor thinks you may have a stomach ulcer, the initial tests will include some blood tests. These tests will help to check whether you have become anaemic because of any bleeding from the ulcer. The blood test will also check to see that your liver and pancreas are working properly.
The main tests that are then used to diagnose a stomach ulcer are as follows:
- A test to detect the H. pylori germ is usually done if you have a stomach ulcer. The H. pylori bacterium can be detected in a sample of stool , or in a ‘breath test’, or from a blood test, or from a biopsy sample taken during a gastroscopy. See the separate leaflet called Helicobacter Pylori for more details.
- Gastroscopy is the test that can confirm a stomach ulcer. Gastroscopy is usually done as an outpatient ‘day case’. You may be given a sedative to help you to relax. In this test, a doctor looks inside your stomach by passing a thin, flexible telescope down your gullet . The doctor will then be able to see any inflammation or ulcers in your stomach.
- Small samples are usually taken of the tissue in and around the ulcer during gastroscopy. These are sent to the laboratory to be looked at under the microscope. This is important because some ulcers are caused by stomach cancer. However, most stomach ulcers are not caused by cancer.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bleeding Ulcer
Bleeding ulcers dont always cause pain. Sometimes the first signs of a bleeding ulcer are signs of anemia. These include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
You might have a heavier bleed if you notice:
- Blood in your poop, or black poop that resembles tar.
- Bloody vomit.
These symptoms require urgent medical attention.
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What Happens After Treatment
A repeat gastroscopy is usually advised a few weeks after treatment has finished. This is mainly to check that the ulcer has healed. It is also to be doubly certain that the ‘ulcer’ was not due to stomach cancer. If your ulcer was caused by H. pylori then a test is advised to check that the H. pylori infection has gone. This is done at least four weeks after the course of combination therapy has finished.
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.
- 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
- 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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How Can I Be Sure Its An Ulcer
The only way to be sure an ulcer is causing your discomfort is with a medical diagnosis. We will evaluate your medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination.
To determine the root cause of your ulcer, we may run blood, stool, or breath tests. These tests are designed to look for signs of helicobacter pylori, the bacteria linked to ulcers.
Depending on your unique symptoms, we may also order an endoscopy. During an endoscopy, we insert a tube with a tiny camera down your throat and into your stomach to take pictures of any potential damage and collect tissue samples for analysis.
What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose A Peptic Ulcer
Endoscopy. An upper endoscopy exam is expedient because allows healthcare providers to see inside your digestive tract and also take a tissue sample to analyze in the lab. The test is done by passing a thin tube with a tiny camera attached down your throat and into your stomach and duodenum. Youll have medication to numb your throat and help you relax during the test. Your healthcare provider may use the endoscope to take a tissue sample to test for signs of mucous damage, anemia, H. pylori infection or malignancy. If they take a sample, you wont feel it.
Imaging tests. Imaging tests to look inside the stomach and small intestine include:
- Upper GI series. An upper GI X-ray exam examines the stomach and duodenum through X-rays. Its less invasive than an endoscopy. For the X-ray, youll swallow a chalky fluid called barium, which will coat your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The barium helps your digestive organs show up better in black and white images.
- CT scan. Your healthcare provider might recommend a CT scan if they need to see your organs in more detail. A CT scan can show complications such as a perforation in the stomach or intestinal wall. For the test, youll lie on a table inside a scanner machine while X-rays are taken. You may drink or have an injection with contrast fluid to make your organs show up better in images.
Tests for H. pylori. Your healthcare provider might want to test you separately for H. pylori infection. Tests may include:
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