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 youre taking.
To rule out H. pylori infection, a blood, stool, or breath test may be ordered. With a breath test, youll 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 swallow: You drink a thick white liquid that coats your upper gastrointestinal tract and helps your doctor see your stomach and small intestine on X-rays.
- Endoscopy : 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.
How Are Peptic Ulcers Treated
Treatment will depend on the type of ulcer you have. Your healthcare provider will create a care plan for you based on what is causing your ulcer.
Treatment can include making lifestyle changes, taking medicines, or in some cases having surgery.
Lifestyle changes may include:
- Not eating certain foods. Avoid any foods that make your symptoms worse.
- Quitting smoking. Smoking can keep your ulcer from healing. It is also linked to ulcers coming back after treatment.
- Limiting alcohol and caffeine. They can make your symptoms worse.
- Not using NSAIDs . These include aspirin and ibuprofen.
Medicines to treat ulcers may include:
- Antibiotics. These bacteria-fighting medicines are used to kill the H. pylori bacteria. Often a mix of antibiotics and other medicines is used to cure the ulcer and get rid of the infection.
- H2-blockers . These reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes by blocking the hormone histamine. Histamine helps to make acid.
- Proton pump inhibitors or PPIs. These lower stomach acid levels and protect the lining of your stomach and duodenum.
- Mucosal protective agents. These medicines protect the stomach’s mucus lining from acid damage so that it can heal.
- Antacids. These quickly weaken or neutralize stomach acid to ease your symptoms.
In most cases, medicines can heal ulcers quickly. Once the H. pylori bacteria is removed, most ulcers do not come back.
What Kind Of Pain Does A Stomach Ulcer Cause
Stomach ulcers can also cause bloating, stomach pain, and a burning sensation in your upper abdomen, but there are a few key differences. Here is an overview of the most common symptoms of a stomach ulcer:
What are the side effects of excessive burping?
If you experience excessive burping along with symptoms such as trouble swallowing, vomiting blood, or bloody stools, you may have an H. pylori infection or ulcers that require immediate attention.
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Mayo Clinic Q And A: How Is A Peptic Ulcer Treated
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Last year,I was diagnosed with heartburn due to a peptic ulcer. My doctor suggested that I see a specialist. Who should I see, and what type of treatment is available?
ANSWER: Many people will note that they have “heartburn,” and it is important to know that such a symptom could be related to one of several issues in the digestive tract, including peptic ulcer disease. This is where visiting with a health care professional who specializes in disorders of the gastrointestinal tract a gastroenterologist can help.
Once diagnosed and treated, ulcers usually heal within several months. But a gastroenterologist can help you find the underlying cause of your ulcer and decide on the best treatment going forward.
A peptic ulcer is an open sore on the inside lining of the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine. Peptic ulcers are not rare, and their frequency can depend on age, gender, other medical issues, medications and geography.
It’s possible to have a peptic ulcer and not have any symptoms, although they may cause stomach pain. In some people, a peptic ulcer isn’t identified until they experience symptoms related to a complication from an ulcer, such as bleeding or a hole in the lining of the stomach or bowel.
H. pylori is a bacterium that can live in the mucous layer covering the lining of the stomach. It doesn’t always lead to health problems, but it can sometimes trigger inflammation of the stomach’s inner layer, producing an ulcer.
Ronald Hsu Md Facg Facp Dds
Sutter Roseville Medical Center
Its impossible to ignore the gnawing, aching abdominal pains that accompany a stomach ulcer. About 25 million Americans suffer from an ulcer at some point in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Contrary to popular belief, ulcers are not caused by psychological stress or the ingestion of spicy foods. Ronald Hsu, M.D., a gastroenterologist with the Sutter Roseville Medical Center, says two Australian researchers discovered in the early 1980s that a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori is the root cause of most stomach ulcers.
Nobody believed them when this was discovered, Dr. Hsu says. The conventional thinking at that time was that bacteria couldnt live in the stomach on account of the strength of gastric acid.
Eventually, the medical community realized the two men were correct in their findings. Pathologist J. Robin Warren and physician Barry J. Marshall were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 2005 for their discovery of H. pylori. Dr. Marshall famously infected himself with the bacterium in an attempt to prove its link to stomach inflammation and ulcers. It is now firmly established that the bacterium causes more than 90 percent of duodenal ulcers and up to 80 percent of gastric ulcers.
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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider
See your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms:
- Vomiting blood or dark material that looks like coffee grounds
- Extreme weakness or dizziness
- Blood in your stools
- Nausea or vomiting that doesnt get better, or gets worse
- A sudden, severe pain that may spread to your back
- Losing weight without even trying
Untreated peptic ulcers may cause other health problems. Sometimes they bleed. If they become too deep, they can break through your stomach.
Ulcers can also keep food from going through your stomach.
Can You Prevent A Peptic Ulcer
While stress and spicy foods can make symptoms of a peptic ulcer worse, they donât seem to make you more likely to have one. But a few other things can raise your chances.
Be careful when you take pain relievers. Some people who have arthritis or other conditions that cause chronic pain take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for weeks or months at a time to ease pain and swelling. These medicines can affect the mucus that protects your stomach against acid and make you more likely to have peptic ulcers.
These pain relievers include:
You’re more likely to get an ulcer while taking one of these if you:
- Are over age 65
- Are infected with H. pylori bacteria
- Take more than one NSAID at a time
- Have had a peptic ulcer in the past
- Also take a steroid drug or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
To lower your chances for peptic ulcers while you take NSAIDs:
- Use the lowest possible dose to control your symptoms, and stop taking them as soon as you no longer need them.
- Take your medicine with food.
- Don’t drink alcohol while youâre taking these medicines.
While you’re on NSAIDs, you can take medicine to lower the amount of acid your stomach makes. Drugs that can do that include:
- H2 blockers such as cimetidine , famotidine , and nizatidine
You can also take the drug misoprostol to boost the amount of protective mucus your stomach makes. But that can cause side effects like diarrhea and stomach cramps.
- Dairy products that have live cultures, like yogurt, kefir, and aged cheeses
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What Is Indigestion And What Is An Ulcer
A lesion or sore that develops on the lining of your stomach or in the first part of your small intestine is called an ulcer. Ulcers are usually caused by the bacterium H. pylori or by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen. A lesion can get aggravated by your stomach acid and causes pain and other symptoms.
Indigestion or dyspepsia, on the other hand, describes a chronic or recurring pain in your upper abdomen. Indigestion can be caused by many things, including stress, eating too much, taking certain medications, or having an underlying condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease or gallbladder disease.
How Does H Pylori Cause Ulcers
Although many people naturally carry H. pylori, it is not clear why the bacteria only cause ulcers in some people. H. pylori spread through food and water. They live in the mucus that coats the lining of the stomach and duodenum, and they produce urease, an enzyme that neutralizes stomach acid by making it less acidic.
To compensate for this, the stomach produces more acid, and this irritates the stomach lining. The bacteria also weaken the defense system of the stomach and causes inflammation. Patients with peptic ulcers caused by H. pylori need treatment to get rid of the bacterium from the stomach, and to prevent them coming back.
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When To Contact A Doctor
Anyone who thinks they may have an ulcer in their stomach should consult a doctor. Any stomach symptoms that last for more than a few days or keep happening need evaluation and treatment.
Symptoms of anemia, such as tiredness and breathlessness, may signal a slow-bleeding ulcer. More serious bleeding is an urgent medical problem, as people may vomit up blood, or stools are black and sticky.
Perforation is also an emergency. Without quick treatment, the wall of the stomach can become infected. Sudden stomach pain that gets worse can indicate perforation, and any signs of being very unwell with infection need treatment as soon as possible.
What Is The Treatment For Peptic Ulcers
The choice of treatment depends on whether or not the ulcer is caused by infection with H pylori. Correct diagnosis is key to whether a treatment works or not. If the bacteria are the cause, treatment focuses on killing the infection. Regardless of whether the bacteria are the cause, reducing acid in the stomach is another important focus of treatment.
The following treatments are recommended for ulcers:
- Lifestyle changes: Quit smoking, avoid alcohol, aspirin, and NSAIDs
- Acid-blocking medications
- Medications that protect the lining of the stomach and duodenum
- âTriple-therapyâ or âdual-therapyâ regimens for ulcers caused by H pylori
No single medication works to get rid of H pylori infection. Two combinations have been found that work well in most people.
These treatments are generally given for two weeks.
Once H pylori bacteria are eradicated from a personâs digestive tract, usually it will not come back. The ulcers usually heal completely and do not return.
Treatment for bleeding ulcers depends on the severity of blood loss and includes:
It is important to remember that treatment may not work if the diagnosis is not correct. If the doctor diagnoses an ulcer, it is important to determine whether the ulcer is caused by infection with H pylori.
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Treating Helicobacter Pylori Infection
If your stomach ulcer’s caused by a Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection, you’ll be given:
- a course of antibiotics
- a medication called a proton pump inhibitor
This is also recommended if it’s thought your stomach ulcer’s caused by a combination of an H. pylori infection and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
What Are Peptic Ulcers
A peptic ulcer is a sore in the wall of the gastrointestinal tract caused by stomach acid. Peptic ulcers typically result from inflammation caused by infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori or medicines, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
Peptic ulcers can form in the stomach or the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.
The stomach produces acid, but its walls are typically coated with a layer of mucus that protects them from erosion. However, those medicines or an H. pylori infection can impair the mucus barrier of protection in the stomach, Dr. Yalamanchili says. This can eventually lead to a sore developing in the lining of the stomach or duodenum. Its not uncommon for gastric and duodenal ulcers to occur at the same time.
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How Can I Tell If I Have A Peptic Ulcer
You may feel bloated or full. Pain may start soon after you eat. Three to four hours after eating a meal, you may get pain or an empty feeling in your stomach that gets better after you eat again or take an over-the-counter antacid .
Other signs include belching, feeling sick or dizzy, vomiting, heartburn, and a bad taste in your throat. Some people have black stools from bleeding in the stomach or intestine.
Your doctor may give you a blood or stool test to see if you have anemia or HP infection. You may need an x-ray or an endoscopy .
How Soon After Treatment Will I Feel Better
If you take all medicines as prescribed and avoid irritating the ulcer with NSAIDs, alcohol or smoking, your ulcer should heal well within a few weeks. Surgical cases may take a few weeks more. Your healthcare provider will follow up with you at the end of your course of medication to make sure the ulcer has healed and any infection has cleared. They will probably take follow-up tests, including an upper endoscopy to look at the site of the ulcer and tests for H. pylori, if you had it, to make sure the infection is gone.
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How Are Esophageal Ulcers Caused
The main causes of esophageal ulcers are:
Exposure to stomach acid: This causes chronic inflammation and irritation of the esophagus, allowing ulcers to develop. Stomach acid exposure most often occurs in people with other gastrointestinal conditions. These can include hiatal hernias and GERD, or gastrointestinal reflux disease, more commonly referred to, as severe heartburn.
Medications: Certain drugs, including aspirin, ibuprofen, bisphosphonates, and some antibiotics, can cause esophagitis, or inflammation of the esophagus, and esophageal ulcers.
Infection: Ulcers caused by infection are less common, but the fungal infection known as candida, herpes, and the human papillomavirus have all been linked to esophageal ulcers.
Caustic injury: Esophageal ulcers may be caused by ingesting a corrosive substance. This type of injury mostly affects children, but it can also occur in adults who experience psychosis, suicidal tendencies, or who are abusing alcohol.
Certain types of gastric surgery or foreign bodies can also cause esophageal ulcers.
Early intervention is key to preventing complications from esophageal ulcers.
In cases of acid reflux, treatment may include:
- Medication, such as antacids, H-2-receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors .
- Dietary and lifestyle changes, to aid digestion.
- Surgery, for severe cases. Types of surgeries include to tighten the LES valve near the top of the stomach or to insert a magnetic device to help the LES valve function.
When Should You See A Doctor
Bleeding from an ulcer can also happen, according to the Mayo Clinic 1. However, bleeding is often slow and may go unnoticed until the person becomes anemic because they don’t have enough healthy red blood cells. Anemia symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath and, for some, a pale skin color.
If you feel weak or faint have difficulty breathing notice blood in your stool or vomit or feel sudden, sharp stomach pains, the NIDDK urges you to seek immediate medical attention. If your over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers relieve pain, but the pain returns, thats also a sign to see your doctor. These are red flags that a stomach ulcer may have caused something more serious.
“To treat an ulcer, doctors have to detect and eradicate H. pylori, buffer stomach acid with caustic medications and eliminate gastric acid with medications,” says Dr. Raymond. Treatment for ulcers is usually helpful, with medication helping the ulcers to heal over time. But to minimize discomfort, its also best to avoid foods that cause you consistent irritation.
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- Bleeding from an ulcer can also happen, according to the Mayo Clinic 1.
- However, bleeding is often slow and may go unnoticed until the person becomes anemic because they don’t have enough healthy red blood cells.
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Do Ulcers Make You Fart A Lot
Peptic ulcers can cause gas and stomach pain The pain comes and goes, lasts for minutes or hours and can usually be felt on an empty stomach. Other symptoms may include vomiting, bloating, gas pains, and weight loss.
Do ulcers feel like hunger pains?
Facts and picture about peptic ulcer The main symptom of an ulcer in the stomach or duodenum is upper abdominal pain, which may be dull, sharp or burning .
Do stomach ulcers affect your intestines?
Gastric ulcers sometimes cause scarring and swelling of the tissues that leads to the small intestine, which can prevent food from passing easily from the stomach. This blockage can cause bloating, nausea, or vomiting after eating.
Do ulcers hurt when you press on your stomach?
The pain is usually located in the upper middle part of the abdomen, above the belly button and below the breastbone. Ulcer pain may feel like burning or gnawing, and it may reach the back.
Can a stomach ulcer cause bloating and gas?
Does the disease cause gas ? Yes! As mentioned earlier, bloating is one of the common symptoms of stomach ulcer. Inflammation of an ulcer can lead to more gas throughout the day, causing bloating. For this reason, avoid carbonated drinks and other foods that can trigger excess gas in the stomach!
Can a stomach ulcer be caused by excessive belching?