How Do You Know If You Have A Stomach Ulcer
If you have a stomach ulcer, you may have:
- Burning/dull pain or gnawing pain in the center of your tummy
- Pain that worsens between meals
- Vomiting in the middle of the night
Visit the doctor/gastroenterologist if you
- Vomit blood that is bright red or dark brown
- Are passing dark, sticky, tar-like poo
- Have sudden, sharp pain in your tummy that gets worse steadily
- These could be the signs of internal bleeding, and this can be fatal.
How Do I Know If I Have An Ulcer
Describing your symptoms may lead your doctor to suspect that you have a peptic ulcer, but it wonÃ¢t likely help determine the type, because the symptoms of stomach and duodenal ulcers are so similar. The doctor will do tests like these to figure out which specific type of ulcer you have:
- Endoscopy. This is the most accurate diagnostic test to diagnose a peptic ulcer. The doctor puts a flexible tube down your throat to see inside your esophagus , stomach, and duodenum. This allows the doctor to see the cause of bleeding and test for any bacterial infection. During this exam, your doctor may also do a biopsy to check for cancer.
- Barium swallow. If you canât have an endoscopy, this test, also called an upper GI series of X-rays, can help your doctor identify and locate the ulcer and determine its type and severity. The test requires you to drink a âbarium milkshake,â which has a liquid that will show up on an X-ray. They may ask you to eat only bland, easy-to-digest foods for 2-3 days before the test. After drinking the chalky liquid, you lie down on a tilting exam table. This evenly spreads the barium around your upper digestive tract and lets the X-ray take pictures at different angles.
Peptic Ulcer Diet Recommendations
You can load up on foods that reduce stomach acid to lessen your symptoms, and research recommended foods to avoid with ulcers. Itâs important to note that everyone is different, so foods that will worsen some peopleâs symptoms may not affect others. Keep a record of which specific foods and drinks worsen your symptoms, and try your best to avoid them.
UMass Medical School says you should avoid any gastric irritants that can increase stomach acid secretions. Suggested foods to avoid with ulcers include caffeinated drinks, chiles, alcoholic drinks, chocolate, carbonated beverages and peppers. Other foods that could trigger ulcer flare-ups include:
- Dairy products. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center says that drinking large amounts of milk can increase stomach acid secretion and suggests that whole milk, cream and butter are all foods to avoid with ulcers.
- Fatty foods, including deep-fried foods, lard, margarine and high-fat meats like bacon.
- Spicy foods. You might find that certain spices and seasonings cause that burning stomach pain, in which case itâs best to avoid them.
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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.
What To Eat If You Have A Stomach Ulcer
Since H. pylori bacteria is now known to be an important cause of ulcer formation, scientists are exploring what foods may have a role in fighting against an infection.
In addition to taking the antibiotics and acid-blocking medications recommended by your doctor for your ulcer treatment, eating these foods may also be helpful against the ulcer-causing bacteria:
for ulcer treatment. These foods, such as miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi, may prevent reinfection.
Turmeric is currently being studied as a potential treatment for ulcers as well.
Garlic, decaffeinated green tea, and licorice round out the list of things you might want to incorporate in your diet.
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Tip Sheet: Ulcers And Pain Relievers
Be cautious about taking over-the-counter pain relief drugs if you have an ulcer. Some can worsen your symptoms. These tips will help.
If you have an ulcer, you need to be very careful with over-the-counter pain medicines. Remember: No drug is risk-free. It is very important to discuss the use of over-the-counter drugs with your doctor, especially if you have an ulcer or other medical conditions. Here are some tips from the experts for using these medicines safely.
- Avoid Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs . If you have an ulcer, use of NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen could be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. A non-NSAID pain reliever, like acetaminophen, may be a safer choice. Your doctor can recommend appropriate alternatives.
- Take precautions. If you need to use an NSAID, always take it with milk or food to make it easier on your stomach. To prevent problems, your doctor might recommend:
- A prescription proton pump inhibitor
- High doses of prescription H2 receptor antagonists
- Cytotec, a drug to protect your stomach lining
Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy And Biopsy
In an upper GI endoscopy, a gastroenterologist, surgeon, or other trained health care professional uses an endoscope to see inside your upper GI tract. This procedure takes place at a hospital or an outpatient center.
An intravenous needle will be placed in your arm to provide a sedative. Sedatives help you stay relaxed and comfortable during the procedure. In some cases, the procedure can be performed without sedation. You will be given a liquid anesthetic to gargle or spray anesthetic on the back of your throat. The doctor will carefully feed the endoscope down your esophagus and into your stomach and duodenum. A small camera mounted on the endoscope sends a video image to a monitor, allowing close examination of the lining of your upper GI tract. The endoscope pumps air into your stomach and duodenum, making them easier to see.
The doctor may perform a biopsy with the endoscope by taking a small piece of tissue from the lining of your esophagus. You wont feel the biopsy. A pathologist examines the tissue in a lab.
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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.
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 doesnÃÂ¢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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Diagnosis Of A Stomach Ulcer
Diagnosing a stomach ulcer is done using a range of methods, including:
- Endoscopy a thin flexible tube is threaded down the oesophagus into the stomach under light anaesthesia. The endoscope is fitted with a small camera so the physician can see if there is an ulcer.
- Barium meal a chalky liquid is drunk and an x-ray is performed, showing the stomach lining. These tests are less common nowadays, but may be useful where endoscopy is unavailable.
- Biopsy a small tissue sample is taken during an endoscopy and tested in a laboratory. This biopsy should always be done if a gastric ulcer is found.
- C14 breath test this checks for the presence of H. pylori. The bacteria convert urea into carbon dioxide. The test involves swallowing an amount of radioactive carbon and testing the air exhaled from the lungs. A non-radioactive test can be used for children and pregnant women.
What Natural Home Remedies Help Peptic Ulcer Pain
Home care for peptic ulcers often centers on neutralizing the stomach acid.
- Dont smoke, and avoid coffee and alcohol. These habits increase gastric acid production and weaken the mucosal barrier of the GI tract promoting ulcer formation and slowing ulcer healing.
- Dont take aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Acetaminophen is a good substitute for some conditions. If acetaminophen doesnt help, talk to your health-care professional about alternatives.
- If your symptoms are mild, try an over-the-counter antacid or nonprescription histamine blocker to neutralize stomach acid. Usually stronger prescription medications are needed.
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 personâs 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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How To Recognize The Symptoms Of Stomach Ulcers
This article was medically reviewed by Roy Nattiv, MD. Dr. Roy Nattiv is a board-certified Pediatric Gastroenterologist in Los Angeles, California. who specializes in a broad range of pediatric gastrointestinal and nutritional illnesses such as constipation, diarrhea, reflux, food allergies, poor weight gain, SIBO, IBD, and IBS. Dr. Nattiv received his undergrad degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and his medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv, Israel. He completed his pediatric residency at the Childrens Hospital at Montefiore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, and his fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco . While at UCSF, he was a California Institute of Regenerative Medicine fellowship trainee and was awarded the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Fellow to Faculty Award in Pediatric IBD Research. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Nattiv is active in the research community and has been published in several high-impact medical journals.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 23 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 3,730,374 times.
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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 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
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How Do You Know If Your Ulcer Is Healed
A pepticulcer can develop on the stomach lining orfirst part of the intestine . A number of treatmentoptions are available to soothe and heal the open sore, and this is usually dependenton the underlying cause. Fortunately, the disease is curable in most cases . The next question, how do youknow if it is healed completely?
Could I Have An Ulcer And Not Know It
5 min Read Time
Around 25 million people will have a stomach ulcer in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite their prevalence, the symptoms of an ulcer can frequently be mistaken for other conditions, like heartburnand some people may not show any signs at all. Its also unlikely that stress or your diet is the culprit. If youre concerned that your stomach pain could be something more serious, read on to find out the causes, proper treatment and prevention methods for peptic ulcers.
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Good News About Stomach Ulcers From The Cdc Website
Twenty-five million Americans suffer from ulcers. An ulcer is a sore or hole in the lining of the stomach or duodenum . People of any age can get an ulcer and women are affected just as often as men.
- Your doctor can test you for H. pylori infection.
- Antibiotics are the new cure for ulcers.
- Eliminating H. pylori infections with antibiotics means that your ulcer can be cured for good.
Burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach area lasting between 30 minutes and 3 hours commonly accompanies ulcers. This pain can be misinterpreted as hunger, indigestion or heartburn. Pain is usually caused by the ulcer but it may be aggravated by the stomach acid when it comes into contact with the ulcerated area.
Reduce Stress In Daily Life
Stress reduction techniques can help control signs and symptoms. To relieve stress, try:
Identify stressors in your current life. Learn how to manage stress. Exercise, if your doctor confirms its safe, and listening to soothing music can help.
Learn and practice relaxation techniques. May include relaxing breathing, meditation, yoga, and muscle relaxation.
Pursue relaxing activities. Spend time doing things you enjoy, such as hobbies or sports.
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Fast Facts On Stomach Ulcers
- Stomach ulcers are common in the West and easy to treat but can become serious.
- The most common causes are bacteria and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
- The classic symptom of a stomach ulcer is indigestion.
- Treatment for stomach ulcers normally focuses on removing the cause.
The classic symptom of a stomach ulcer is indigestion, also called dyspepsia.
Indigestion causes pain or discomfort in the stomach area. This symptom can be mistaken for heartburn, which can occur at the same time.
Stomach ulcer symptoms tend to be more distinct than heartburn, but symptoms can still be vague.
An ulcer also tends to produce a burning or dull pain in the center of the abdomen. People sometimes describe the pain as a biting or gnawing pain. Some individuals may describe a hungry sensation.
Individuals may also be able to relieve pain by eating, drinking, or taking antacids.
Some stomach ulcers go unnoticed and show no typical indigestion-type pains. These ulcers are less common, and doctors tend them after they have started bleeding.
Some ulcers can cause a hole in the stomach wall. Health experts call this perforation, which is a severe condition.
Stomach ulcer symptoms often change over time and can be difficult to spot.
Dietary changes can help prevent stomach ulcers from developing.
How Is An Ulcer Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. They may do an endoscopy. This procedure involves inserting a thin, flexible tube attached to a camera down your throat and into your stomach. Your doctor will test your blood, breath or stool for H. pylori. They also can test a sample of your stomach lining. Your doctor also will ask you if you regularly take aspirin or anti-inflammatory medicines.
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