Stomach Ulcer Symptoms You Cant Ignore And How To Naturally Treat Them
May 20, 2019
Chances are that if you havent experienced one yourself, you at least know someone whos had a stomach ulcer at one point or another. Estimates show that about 500,000 new cases of peptic ulcers are reported each year in the U.S. alone, and at any given time about 5 million people are affected. In addition, one in 10 adults can expect to deal with painful ulcers at one point or another.
For many years, doctors thought that high amounts of stress alone could cause a stomach ulcer to form by increasing production of stomach acid. But then research emerged in the 1980s showing that frequent use of anti-inflammatory drugs , a poor lifestyle, and especially a type of bacterial infection caused by the strain Helicobacter pylori are the real culprits of the majority of ulcers.
Fortunately, according to an article published in The Lancet, prevalence of H. pylori infection and peptic ulcer diseases have become substantially less prevalent than they were two decades ago.
Wondering how to treat a stomach ulcer if youve already developed one? Below well cover much more about stomach ulcer treatments including medications, stress management and dietary changes.
What Is The Treatment For Mouth Ulcers
Most mouth ulcers get better on their own within 1 to 2 weeks. Until your ulcer heals:
- use a soft toothbrush to reduce further damage
- rinse your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash
- avoid foods that make the pain worse, such as spicy or acidic food
- choose softer foods that are less likely to make the ulcer feel worse
- use a straw to drink cool liquids so they dont touch ulcers in the front of your mouth
- take paracetamol for pain relief.
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How Are Stress Ulcers Diagnosed
Your doctor will want to determine if you are having peptic ulcers caused by an H. pylori infection or other medical causes.
To be certain, your doctor will want to inspect your stomach visually, typically done during an upper GI endoscopy.
During this procedure, a flexible tube with a camera at the end is inserted into your esophagus and an empty stomach. The doctor then carefully looks at the lining of your stomach.
Your healthcare provider can visualize ulceration or bleeding inside your stomach through this process.
Once your physician confirms a diagnosis of stress gastritis, then an evidence-based, clinically sound treatment plan can begin.
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Easing The Pain With Medication
Stomach Ulcer Diagnosis And Conventional Treatment
If you suspect you have a stomach ulcer, see your doctor to first rule out other causes of your pain. In order to diagnose a stomach ulcer, your doctor may perform an endoscopy, which allows the doctor to view the inside lining of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Once a diagnosis is verified, treatment options can begin.
Your doctor will likely take your medical history and perform a physical exam along with a blood test, plus ask you about your past use of medications and possibly do an X-ray to locate a stomach ulcer. Testing the blood for H. pylori, plus doing a urea breath test and/or stool test to look for the presence of H. pylori antigens, are common ways to diagnose an ulcer.
The goal of stomach ulcer treatments is to help reduce pain and inflammation in the digestive tract, boost the immune system to fight H. pylori bacteria, prevent complications, and lower the chance for future ulcers from forming or returning.
Today, conventional treatment options for stomach ulcers include:
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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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What Are The Symptoms Of A Peptic Ulcer Does It Cause Pain
Ulcers do not always cause symptoms. Sometimes, a serious complication such as bleeding or a sudden, bad upper abdominal pain is the first sign of an ulcer.
The most common symptom of peptic ulcers is abdominal pain.
- The pain is usually in the upper middle part of the abdomen, above the belly button and below the breastbone.
- The ulcer pain can feel like burning, or gnawing, and it may go through to the back.
- Pain often comes several hours after a meal when the stomach is empty.
- The pain is often worse at night and early morning.
- It can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
- The ulcer pain may be relieved by food, antacids, or vomiting.
Other symptoms of peptic ulcers include the following:
- Loss of appetite
Severe ulcers may cause bleeding in the stomach or duodenum. Bleeding is sometimes the only symptom of an ulcer. This bleeding can be fast or slow. Fast bleeding reveals itself in one of the following ways:
- Vomiting of blood or dark material that looks something like coffee grounds: This is an emergency and warrants an immediate visit to an emergency department.
- Blood in the stool or black, tarry, sticky-looking stools
Slow bleeding is often more difficult to detect, because it has no dramatic symptoms.
- The usual result is low blood cell count .
- The symptoms of anemia are tiredness , lack of energy , weakness, rapid heartbeat , and pale skin .
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What Causes Leg Ulcers
Causes of leg ulcers include:
- Chronic venous insufficiency: Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when faulty valves in leg veins allow blood to flow backward into the leg where it pools. If you develop high blood pressure in the leg veins, tiny blood vessels can burst, causing inflammation, itching and dry skin. Leg ulcers develop when the skin breaks open.
- Diabetes: High blood sugar levels from diabetes can cause fat deposits to form inside blood vessels, causing them to narrow. Reduced blood flow can cause nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy. With these nerve problems, you may not be able to feel a leg ulcer or know its there. Diabetes also slows the wound healing process.
- Peripheral artery disease : This condition causes plaque to build up in the arteries . The blood vessels in the leg become narrow, leading to poor blood circulation. The reduced blood flow slows the healing of leg ulcers. People with diabetes are more likely to develop PAD.
- High blood pressure: Chronic, poorly controlled high blood pressure can cause an extremely painful ulcer on the lower leg called a Martorell ulcer. High blood pressure causes the capillaries in the skin to become narrow, cutting off the blood supply to the skin. The skin can die, forming a leg ulcer.
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Making A Decision And Considering Alternative Options
All three types of stomach-protecting medication can lower the risk of getting peptic ulcers. Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers appear to be very well tolerated. But it is important to make sure the dose of H2 blockers is high enough. H2 blockers can become less effective over time because your body gets used to them. This doesnt seem to be a problem when taking proton pump inhibitors.
The risk of stomach and bowel problems can be reduced by taking the lowest possible dose of painkillers, and only taking them for as long as necessary. Acetaminophen may sometimes be an alternative to NSAIDs. It doesnt increase the risk of peptic ulcers and is often just as effective. But it has side effects too: For instance, it may cause liver damage if the dose is too high or if you take it regularly.
Its best to talk to a doctor about how high your own personal risk of getting a peptic ulcer is, as well as what medications you could take to protect your stomach.
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Symptoms Of Stomach Ulcers
Although the most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is a burning or gnawing pain in the centre of the abdomen . Not all stomach ulcers are painful.
Some people experience:
Speak to your GP immediately if:
- your symptoms persist
- you’re vomiting blood the blood can appear bright red or have a dark brown, grainy appearance like coffee grounds
- you’re passing dark, sticky, tar-like stools
- you feel a sudden, sharp pain in your tummy that gets steadily worse
These could be a sign of a serious complication.
Symptoms Of Peptic Ulcers
The initial symptoms of stomach ulcers include mild symptoms which constitute heartburn or severe pain accompanied by a burning sensation on the upper part of the body. This burnings sensation in the stomach above the navel, which is similar to hunger pangs is the most common discomfort experienced by those suffering from this ailment. At times when the stomach is empty like midnight or 30 to 120 minutes after food consumption is when these pain attacks develop. An empty stomach produces acidic stomach juices which irritate the unprotected nerve endings which have been exposed in the ulcer. Intake of antacid or any solid or liquid food item can neutralize the stomach acid and reduce the pain.
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Mucus And Blood In Stool With Abdominal Pain: 6 Causes Explained
Our content is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice by your doctor. Use for informational purposes only.
Common causes of abdominal pain, with blood and mucus in the stool are:
- Dysentery: the most common cause of acute abdominal pain with blood and mucus in stool.
- Inflammatory bowel disease .
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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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Which Way To Go With A Giant Gastric Ulcer
A large gastric ulcer was discovered in 65-year-old man who had no significant comorbidities. Two set of biopsy samples revealed only some probably reactive atypia. The images show the endoscopic appearance of the lesion. A CT has confirmed the presence of a large gastric ulcer with a couple of small nodes nearby that were reported as likely to be reactive.
Case Question 1
What would you do next?
a) Reassure the patient and organise a follow up in 3 months to confirm healing
b) Organise for another set of biopsy samples to be taken in the next week or so
c) Organise an endoscopic ultrasound
d) Organise a laparoscopy and wedge biopsy
e) Organise a distal gastrectomy
- Case question 1 answer and discussion
Correct answer: d.
This situation is a frequent conundrum in clinical practise. Of course, such cases should be discussed in your local cancer meeting. Poor healing appears to be more frequent in the elderly, those who have significant comorbidities and with certain drug treatments, such as NSAIDs, potassium chloride, bisphosphonates, doxycycline or nicorandil. Chronic gastric ulceration has also been reported secondary to nearby infiltrating adenocarcinoma, lymphoma or stromal tumours, cytomegalovirus infection and lymphoma.
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Lifestyle Changes To Help Prevent Stomach Ulcers
Certain lifestyle factors can affect your risk of stomach ulcers. To prevent ulcers in the future, start making these lifestyle changes today:
- Avoid alcohol: Drinking alcohol increases the risk of H. pylori infection.
- Quit smoking: Smoking raises your risk of stomach ulcers.
- Exercise daily: Regular physical activity has been linked to a lower risk of stomach ulcers.
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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
Peptic ulcer symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.
When To Call A Healthcare Provider
If the ulcer is large or deep, growing in size, incredibly painful, or if you have any signs of infection , you notice a bad smell coming from your ulcer, or youre running a fever, call your healthcare provider right away.
Youll also want to call your healthcare provider if your ulcer, no matter how minor, isnt showing signs healing after a week to 10 days.
In most cases, the ulcer will be dressed to protect the wound. However, if your ulcer is draining considerably, your healthcare provider may recommend leaving the wound uncovered. Dressing the ulcer if its draining considerably can impede healing.
If your ulcer is painful, pain medication can be prescribed. Antibiotics may also be prescribed either prophylactically to prevent infection or to treat an already infected wound.
Debridement is done to remove dead tissue from more serious ulcers. For deep ulcers or those that arent healing after a long period of time, skin grafts may be needed. In the most severe cases, part of the foot, leg, or other appendage may have to be amputated.
Restoring good circulation is key in treating and preventing ulcers. This includes elevating the legs, wearing compression stockings, reducing pressure on ulcer-prone areas, superficial vein surgery. Leg ulcers, in particular, are incredibly likely to reoccur, so compression stockings are often needed to be worn for life.
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What Natural Home Remedies Help Peptic Ulcer Pain
Home care for peptic ulcers often centers on neutralizing the stomach acid.
- Donât 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.
- Donât take aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Acetaminophen is a good substitute for some conditions. If acetaminophen doesnât 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.
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.
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