How Peptic Ulcer Disease Is Diagnosed
Peptic ulcer disease are sores that develop on the lining of your stomach or small intestine. There are several ways to diagnose peptic ulcer disease, ranging from blood tests, stool testing, an endoscopy, and an upper gastrointestinal series.
Verywell / Ellen Lindner
What Are The Symptoms Of Peptic Ulcers
Each persons symptoms may vary. In some cases ulcers dont cause any symptoms.
The most common ulcer symptom is a dull or burning pain in your belly between your breastbone and your belly button . This pain often occurs around meal times and may wake you up at night. It can last from a few minutes to a few hours.
Less common ulcer symptoms may include:
- Feeling full after eating a small amount of food
- Bloody or black stool
- Vomiting blood
Peptic ulcer symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.
How Stress Ulcers Form
Some estimate that 75% percent of people admitted to hospital intensive care units who are not receiving preventive care for stress ulcers may develop asymptomatic stress ulcers, but a much lower percentage have clinically significant bleeding.
When a person experiences critical illness or hospitalization, there are physical effects on the body. Stomach acid levels can increase and the lining of the stomachalso called the mucosacan be damaged. It can also impact the duodenum, which is just below the stomach and where food is additionally digested after leaving the stomach. As the mucosal lining deteriorates, stress ulcers begin to form.
Physical stress such as physical trauma or surgery can lead to changes in:
- Stomach acid levels
- Other areas of the digestive tract
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You Have Pain Specifically In Your Upper Abdomen
One of the most common ulcer symptoms is a severe pain in the upper abdomen, according to Neil Sengupta, MD, a gastroenterology specialist at the University of Chicago. Ulcers can develop anywhere in the upper digestive track, but Dr. Sengupta says we often think about those occurring in the stomach or small intestine, where we feel pain. This pain usually occurs between the breastbone and belly button, and can bring on a burning, aching, or dull feeling. The sensation may begin as a light, mild pain but often progresses into something more serious as the ulcers develop.
How Can My Doctor Diagnose My Stomach Ulcer
Depending on the availability and cost, following the test, your doctor may ask for
- Antibody blood test
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Worried That You Might Have An Ulcer Please Come See Us
If youre experiencing any of the above signs or symptoms, or if your digestive tract is bothering you in any way or causing you pain, please call 232-1919 to make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health gastroenterologists. Well examine you, evaluate your symptoms, maybe perform some tests, and together with you, decide on the best treatment going forward, given your individual health needs. Whenever, wherever you need us, were here for you.
By Elie M. Abemayor, MD, Sc.M., a gastroenterologist with Westchester Health, member of Westchester Health Physician Partners
Signs That You May Have A Stomach Ulcer
A number of symptoms are associated with stomach ulcers, says the website Healthline. 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 is more intense when your stomach is empty, can last for a few minutes to several hours, and comes and goes for several days, weeks or months.
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Burning Pain In Your Abdomen
This may seem like a no-brainer but the most common sign that people experience when they have a stomach ulcer is a persistent burning pain in their abdomen. This sensation occurs when juices in the stomach used for digestion come into contact with the open sore. For the most part, the pain is felt from the breastbone to navel and is often worse at night than during the day. On the other hand, if you are someone who frequently skips meals, you may find that you experience this pain much throughout the daytime.
Youve Had Unexplained Vomiting
From time to time, the nausea brought on by ulcers may become so intense that it could actually cause you to vomit. Frequent vomiting is never a fun experience, but whatever you do, stay away from medications like ibuprofen and aspirin when treating the condition and other ulcer symptoms. According to Dr. Sengupta, these over-the-counter pain medications actually put you at a higher risk of developing ulcers, and can make your current ulcers worse.
How Can I Prevent A Stomach Ulcer From Occurring Or Returning
- Reduce NSAID use, if possible. Consider whether acetaminophen might substitute. If you take NSAIDs for medical reasons, talk to your doctor about reducing your dosage or switching your medication. Your doctor may also prescribe another medicine to take with NSAIDs to protect your stomach lining.
- Reduce other irritants that may contribute to too much stomach acid or erode your stomach lining, including smoking and alcohol use.
- Take an H. pylori breath test to find out if you have an overgrowth of the bacteria.
Types Of Stress Ulcers
The types of stress ulcers are related to the types of physical stress that causes them. While many different physical stressors can lead to stress ulcers, not all of these causes have names. Curling ulcers and Cushing ulcers are two types of stress ulcers caused by different physical stressors, and they are:
- Curling ulcers are a type of stress ulcer that is caused by systemic burns, or burns that impact 30% of the body or more.
- Cushing ulcers are a type of stress ulcer that is caused by acute traumatic brain injury.
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What Are The Signs Of An Ulcer
such as stomach ulcers. It says your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist if you have symptoms that could be due to stomach cancer. Some of the early signs are similar to signs caused by other conditions, but should be checked nonetheless.
What can I take to relieve ulcer pain?
A prescription proton pump inhibitor High doses of prescription H2 receptor antagonists Cytotec, a drug to protect your stomach lining
What Are The Complications Of Peptic Ulcers
Ulcers can cause serious problems if you dont get treatment.
The most common problems include:
- Bleeding. As an ulcer wears away the muscles of the stomach or duodenal wall, blood vessels may be hurt. This causes bleeding.
- Hole . Sometimes an ulcer makes a hole in the wall of your stomach or duodenum. When this happens, bacteria and partly digested food can get in. This causes infection and redness or swelling .
- Narrowing and blockage . Ulcers that are found where the duodenum joins the stomach can cause swelling and scarring. This can narrow or even block the opening to the duodenum. Food cant leave your stomach and go into your small intestine. This causes vomiting. You cant eat properly.
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Smelly And Tarry Discharge
Another very important symptom that can give a hint that a person is suffering from a bleeding ulcer is the passing of a stinky smelling and tarry discharge from the rectum in the form of unusual dark stools. This can help identify signs of gastric ulcer currently in the course of bleeding which may have been actively bleeding for a significant period of time.
What Is Peptic Ulcer Disease
Peptic ulcer disease is a condition in which painful sores or ulcers develop in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine . Normally, a thick layer of mucus protects the stomach lining from the effect of its digestive juices. But many things can reduce this protective layer, allowing stomach acid to damage the tissue.
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How Do I Know If I Have A Stomach Ulcer
If you have had some of the symptoms of a potential ulcer and are doing research online trying to figure out if you need to go to the hospital or family clinic, or treat it yourself, here is some friendly real world advice..
Pickle Juice It might amaze you and it isnt 100% effective, but pickle juice may help tell you if you have an ulcer. Even though pickle juice is acidic outside the body, once it enters the stomach it becomes alkaline, and neutralizes the ulcer and may alleviate its symptoms within minutes. If you try eating a few pickles or drinking the pickle juice and your symptoms go away within minutes, chances are almost 100% that you have an esophagus or stomach ulcer.
There is some misinformation about pickle juice on the net, in an experience pediatrics department pickle juice is a real, inexpensive test.
You can also use this list below if you are having stomach pains, vomiting, bloating or what feels like bad acid reflux, it may be a stomach ulcer related to the use of the following items..
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Pepsi and carbonated beverage products
Many stomach ulcers are also responsible due to an infection of Helicobacter pylori
There are studies and advice from many different places online suggesting that stress does not cause ulcers, however we believe that eliminating stress on your life is a contributing factor. It could be stress fro your job, your relationship, financial stress or anything like that. Try to avoid stress as much as possible.
How To Have A Healthy Stomach
Whether youre prone to ulcers, or youve never had one before and want to avoid it at all costs, preventing them starts with making sure digestion is optimized. Even if you get H. pylori, a healthy bacterial balance in the stomach and elsewhere in the digestive tract can help to keep it in balance and even eradicate it.
H. pylori affects as much as half of the worlds population, so the chances of having it or getting it at some point are pretty high. Having reduced inflammation in the body as well as eating plenty of certain types of foods, can reduce the chance of H. pylori creating negative health problems, including ulcers.
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Burning Pain In The Abdomen
Persistent burning pain in the abdomen is one of the first signs of a stomach ulcer. The sensation of pain occurs when juices in the stomach, which help in digestion, come into contact with an open sore in the stomach lining.
In most cases, the pain is felt from the breast bone to the navel, and it often worsens during the night. If you skip meals, particularly breakfast, you may also experience this burning sensation in the stomach during the daytime.
If the dull and burning ache of the ulcer often turns into a sharp, stabbing pain, it is a sign that your ulcer is acting up and you need medical help. It could mean that the ulcer has caused a more critical problem like a perforation in the wall of your stomach or intestine, or a blockage in your digestive tract, and it is triggering intense pain.
Fainting Or Passing Out
After sitting or lying down for a long amount of time, the person who tries to stand up may experience lightheadedness which may lead to fainting. This happens because the body doesnÃ¢t pump enough blood to the brain as much as necessary.
A display of faintness during situations like standing or sitting after prolonged lying down in a patient with stomach ulcer can be an indication of bleeding. With increased blood loss, the person may become anemic. The individual will usually feel weak and sleepy most of the day. It makes them feel exhausted as well.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
If you have stomach ulcers, you may want to ask your doctor:
- What pain reliever can I use instead of an NSAID?
- How will I know if the H. pylori infection is gone?
- How do we find out if the ulcer has healed?
- What can I do relieve symptoms at home during treatment?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Contrary to commonly held beliefs, ulcers arent caused by stress or foods you eat. Most of time, bacteria causes them. Doctors can treat the bacteria with antibiotics and other medications.
If youve been popping a lot of antacids lately, youre constantly snacking to get rid of a gnawing pain in your stomach or you have any other signs of an ulcer, the best thing you can do for your health is talk to your provider. Treatment can heal an ulcer in a matter of weeks.
What Causes An Ulcer
Most peptic ulcers are caused by:
- bacteria called Helicobacter pylori infecting the stomach and upper intestine. They weaken the protective coating of the stomach and upper small intestine. Acid in the stomach then gets through to the sensitive lining underneath. Acid and bacteria irritate this lining, causing ulcers.
- using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen and aspirin. These medicines fight inflammation and help treat long-term, painful conditions like arthritis. If taken in high doses over a long period of time, NSAIDs can cause ulcers in some people.
- smoking cigarettes. Smoking increases the risk of ulcers because nicotine causes the stomach to make more acid. Drinking a lot of alcohol each day for a period of time can also increase a person’s risk of ulcers. Over time, alcohol can wear down the lining of the stomach and intestines.
Sometimes stress can help cause ulcers. Usually this happens only when a person has an illness involving severe emotional or physical stress. Any illness that makes it hard for the body to heal also can make someone more likely to get an ulcer.
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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.
Vomiting Undigested Food With Traces Of Fresh Blood
A feeling of sickness with an urge or inclination to vomit may accompany the onset of bleeding stomach ulcers. This may happen in a repeated series of events from one time to another. If a person is affected to the point of displaying vomiting episodes, the vomitus is characterized as undigested food with traces of fresh blood.
The fresh blood content of the vomitus is usually bright red in color. This is a serious symptom that may indicate a person is experiencing a bleeding ulcer. A vomitus with bright red traces of fresh blood specifies that the ulcer is currently bleeding at the moment or has just started bleeding.
- Pavel Petrik, SaulÄ BraÅ¡iÅ¡kienÄ, & EglÄ Petrik . Characteristics and outcomes of gastroduodenal ulcer bleeding: a single-centre experience in Lithuania.
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How Stomach Ulcers Are Treated
With treatment, most stomach ulcers will heal within a month or two. The treatment recommended for you will depend on what caused the ulcer.
Most people will be prescribed a medication called a proton pump inhibitor to reduce the amount of acid their stomach produces and allow the ulcer to heal naturally.
If an H. pylori infection is responsible for the ulcers, antibiotics will also be used to kill the bacteria, which should prevent the ulcer coming back.
If the ulcers are caused by the use of NSAIDs, PPIs are usually prescribed and your doctor will discuss whether you should keep using NSAIDs.
Alternative medication to NSAIDs, such as paracetamol, may be recommended.
Stomach ulcers can come back after treatment, although this is less likely to happen if the underlying cause is addressed.
Read more about treating stomach ulcers.
Black Or Dark Colored Stool
If you think you may have an ulcer, a good way to tell is to look at your stool. If you notice that when you use the restroom your stool is extremely dark in color, or even black, chances are you are right about what is ailing you. If this is the case, you should absolutely go to the hospital immediately.
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What Are Some Ulcer Symptoms
Some people with ulcers dont experience any symptoms. But signs of an ulcer can include:
- Gnawing or burning pain in your middle or upper stomach between meals or at night.
- Pain that temporarily disappears if you eat something or take an antacid.
In severe cases, symptoms can include:
- Dark or black stool .
- Severe pain in your mid- to upper abdomen.
What Does A Stomach Ulcer Feel Like
The classic symptoms of peptic ulcers are stomach pain and indigestion. Ulcer pain feels like burning or gnawing inside your stomach, which is between your breastbone and your belly button. It may improve temporarily when you eat or drink or when you take an antacid, medication to reduce stomach acid. It may feel worse between meals and at night when stomach acid builds up without food to digest. It may also make you feel like you dont want to eat.
How do I know if I have an ulcer or gastritis?
Gastritis and gastric ulcers share many symptoms and often go hand in hand. Gastritis can be a precursor to stomach ulcers, caused by the same conditions that will eventually cause ulcers, including H. pylori infection and mucous erosion. You may also have both.
Both gastritis and stomach ulcers can cause stomach pain, as well as symptoms of indigestion. Usually, the pain from an ulcer will feel more localized like its coming from one particular spot. But since some ulcers are silent, you might not feel it if you do have one.
If you have symptoms of either gastritis or stomach ulcer, you should seek medical care. Gastritis can lead to ulcers if it hasnt already. It can also indicate an infection or other condition that needs to be treated. Medical testing can quickly determine the causes of your stomach pain.
How can I tell if I have ulcer pain or heartburn?
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