Treatment For A Stomach Ulcer
Special diets are now known to have very little impact on the prevention or treatment of stomach ulcers. Treatment options can include:
- medication including antibiotics, to destroy the H. pylori colony, and drugs to help speed the healing process. Different drugs need to be used in combination some of the side effects can include diarrhoea and rashes. Resistance to some of these antibiotics is becoming more common
- subsequent breath tests used to make sure the H. pylori infection has been treated successfully
- changes to existing medication the doses of arthritis medication, aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medication can be altered slightly to reduce their contributing effects on the stomach ulcer.
- reducing acid tablets are available to reduce the acid content in the gastric juices
- lifestyle modifications including quitting cigarettes, since smoking reduces the natural defences in the stomach and impairs the healing process.
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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Why Do Stomach Ulcers Bleed
Stomach ulcers are open sores in the wall of the stomach. It is more likely to occur when a person uses large amounts of pain relievers and other drugs for long periods of time, or when there is an infection with a certain type of bacteria known as H.pylori . People who consume alcohol and smoke tobacco are at a greater risk. However, these open sores do not always bleed. A person can live with ulcers for months and even years, despite the pain and other digestive symptoms.
Bleeding ulcers is often associated with H.pylori infection. The bacteria has the ability to withstand the strong stomach acid and digestive enzymes. It burrows into the stomach wall tissue and can penetrate deeper into it. In the process it weakens and even destroys the blood vessels in the stomach wall. This results in a bleeding ulcer. The severity of the bleed depends on the blood vessels that is affected and the severity of the damage.
Read more on causes of stomach bleeding.
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The Seven Signs Of Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers are very common. While many people experience painful symptoms, some do not. This is a problem, because if left untreated, a stomach ulcer can cause significant problems. Therefore, its important to learn to detect the signs of a potential stomach ulcer in your body.
Fortunately, stomach ulcers can be easily treated by your doctor once you find out you have one. This blog will help you understand the types of stomach ulcers, what causes them, and what treatments are available today.
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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:
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If Your Ulcer Was Caused By Helicobacter Pylori
Most stomach ulcers are caused by infection with H. pylori. Therefore, a main part of the treatment is to clear this infection. If this infection is not cleared, the ulcer is likely to return once you stop taking acid-suppressing medication. For more information, see the separate leaflet called Helicobacter Pylori.
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 wonât 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 can’t 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 “barium milkshake,” 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.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
You should visit your GP if you think you may have a stomach ulcer.
Contact your GP or NHS 111 immediately if:
- you are passing dark, sticky, tar-like stools
- you have a sudden, sharp pain in your tummy that gets steadily worse
Go to your nearest accident and emergency department or call 999 if:
- you are vomiting blood the blood can appear bright red or have a dark brown, grainy appearance, similar to coffee grounds
These could be a sign of a serious complication, such as internal bleeding.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have A Stomach Ulcer
Always seek medical care for a stomach ulcer. While you may be able to manage symptoms temporarily with over-the-counter medications, these wont heal the ulcer. You need to identify and treat the underlying cause. An untreated ulcer can lead to serious complications, even if your symptoms are mild. The major cause of stomach ulcers, H. pylori infection, can also lead to other complications.
Other Stomach Ulcer Symptoms
Search for diverse symptoms of ulcers that sufferers have reported. These symptoms, dont occur for all everybody. There are ample chances that you may not experience any symptoms at all.
- An increase in the measure of gas and burping.
- A feeling of finishing and a feebleness to drink a respectable measure of liquids.
- Being hungry a couple of hours in the wake of eating a dining experience.
- Mild nausea, most essential on first waking in the morning.
- A general feeling of being tired and not feeling incredible.
- Loss of covetousness.
What Tests Diagnose A Peptic Ulcer
To confirm a person has an ulcer a diagnostic imaging test will usually be ordered. The two most widely used tests are:
- Upper GI series : This is a type of X-ray. The patient is given a chalky liquid to drink that increases the contrast on the X-ray, making certain features easier to see. Because this liquid contains barium, this test is sometimes called a barium swallow.
- Endoscopy : An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera at the end. The patient is given a mild sedative, and then the tube is passed through the mouth into the stomach. The doctor can see the lining of the stomach to diagnose a peptic ulcer. Tiny samples of the tissue will be taken , which are examined under a microscope.
If a diagnostic imaging test reveals an ulcer, the patient will most likely have a test to see if H pylori bacteria are present.
- It is important to be certain about this, because treatment of the H pylori is likely to heal the ulcer.
- Ulcers caused by H pylori are treated differently than ulcers caused by medications.
Three types of tests are available to detect H pylori.
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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.
Youre More Bloated Than Usual
If you notice your stomach feeling particularly bloated, it may be more serious than a little bit of gasit could be one of the signs of an ulcer. According to RM Healthy, bloating is often one of the earliest ulcer symptoms, with patients especially complaining of pain in their midsection. Of course, bloating can also be caused simply by eating something your body doesnt agree with or not drinking enough water, but when combined with these other symptoms, its worth checking out.
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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 tractâs 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.
Helicobacter Pylori Bacteria Tests
The above two stomach ulcer tests were invasive in nature. H.pylori tests, on the other hand are usually non-invasive in nature. Here the doctor tries to determine if the ulcers were caused by bacterial infection. This can be determined through a blood, breath, stool and/or tissue tests.
Blood tests typically are most common. It is important for a doctor to examine the cause for the ulcer because the treatment for ulcers caused by medication is much different than those caused by the H. pylori bacteria.
Breath tests or Urea breath tests are usually administered post treatment to check if the medication had the desired effect, but in certain cases they are used for diagnosis too. Here, the patient is made to drink a urea solution, which contains special carbon atoms. If the patient has H.pylori bacteria then these will break the urea releasing the carbon into the blood stream. This is then transferred to the lungs and exhaled by the patient. Breath tests are reputed to have an accuracy rate of 95 percent.
Stool tests detect if the bacteria is present in the patients fecal matter. According to several research studies the stool test, medically referred to as H. pylori stool antigen test is the most accurate tool for detection of H.pylori bacteria in stomach ulcers.
What Happens During A Urea Breath Test
The test involves firstly swallowing a special solution or capsule containing radioactively labelled urea. If there is an H. pylori infection, the urease from the bacteria will break down the urea, and the breakdown products will also be radioactively labelled.
The second part of the test involves exhaling into a special bag, which is sealed and sent to a laboratory to be tested for radioactively labelled carbon dioxide. Labelled carbon dioxide will only be present if there is an H. pylori infection.
The amount of radioactivity you are exposed to during a breath test is very low about the same as the amount we are exposed to naturally in one day of everyday life. However, there is a non-radioactive breath test that can be used in women of childbearing age and in children.
How Is A Peptic Ulcer Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, whether you take NSAIDs and other drugs, and medical history. Theyâll also check you for bloating in the belly and pain. That may be enough to make a diagnosis.
The only way your doctor can tell for sure if you have an ulcer is to look. They may use a series of X-rays or a test called an endoscopy. This test allows them to pass a thin, bendy tube down your throat and into your stomach and small intestine. The tube has a camera at the end so they can check the lining for ulcers. They may also take a small piece of the lining to test for H. pylori. Blood, breath, and stool sample tests also can screen for the bacteria.
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Symptoms Location And Timing
Your symptoms, the site and character of your discomfort, and symptom timing are important factors your doctor will consider in differentiating acid reflux versus an ulcer. Burning pain behind the breastbone and possibly into the throat that occurs after meals points toward acid reflux. This discomfort often worsens when you lie down or bend over. Ulcer pain is commonly described as gnawing or boring discomfort located toward the bottom of the rib cage. Ulcer pain usually occurs on an empty stomach and is relieved by eating. Unintentional weight loss may point toward an ulcer, whereas difficulty swallowing or a chronic cough makes acid reflux more likely.
- Your symptoms, the site and character of your discomfort, and symptom timing are important factors your doctor will consider in differentiating acid reflux versus an ulcer.
- Ulcer pain is commonly described as gnawing or boring discomfort located toward the bottom of the rib cage.
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.
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What Triggers Stomach Ulcer Symptoms
Stomach ulcer symptoms are irritated by several triggers. They include:
- Stomach acid â some people notice it after they eat while others notice it more on an empty stomach
Our site is the source of information about the gastroenterology related conditions and procedures. This information is intended for patients looking to learn about our gastroenterology practice in New York and make an appointment to see one of our physicians. This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult a doctor or GI specialist about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. Terms and conditions are subject to change.
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.
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