What Causes Stomach Ulcers
The two most common causes are:
- H. pylori infection. This common bacterial infection affects up to half of people worldwide. It primarily lives in the stomach. In many people, it doesnt seem to cause problems. Their gut immune systems keep it in check. But a portion of those infected have H. pylori overgrowth. The bacteria continue to multiply, eating into the stomach lining and causing chronic inflammation and peptic ulcer disease. H. pylori infection is associated with about 60% of duodenal ulcers and 40% of gastric ulcers.
- Overuse of NSAIDs. NSAID stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.” These include common over-the-counter pain relief medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin. NSAIDs contribute to ulcers in several ways. They irritate the stomach lining on contact and repress some of the chemicals that defend and repair the mucous lining. Up to 30% of people who take NSAIDs regularly develop peptic ulcers. Up to 50% of all peptic ulcers are caused by the overuse of NSAIDs.
Less common causes of stomach ulcers include:
- Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome. This is a rare condition that causes your stomach to produce too much gastric acid.
- Severe physiological stress. Severe illness, burns or injuries can produce stress ulcers in the stomach. Physiological stress changes your bodys PH balance, increasing stomach acid. Stress ulcers develop very quickly in response to stress, unlike normal stomach ulcers that develop gradually.
Causes Of A Stomach Ulcer
There are two main reasons for the stomach linings protective mucus being damaged, allowing stomach ulcers to form. These are:
- H. pylori infection where the bacteria irritates the stomach lining making it vulnerable to acidic damage. It’s thought that this accounts for around 80% of stomach ulcer cases but doesnt always cause symptoms
- Long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , including aspirin, ibuprofen. naproxen and diclofenac
In rare cases, viral infections and conditions such as Crohns disease can trigger stomach ulcers.
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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Outlook With Gastric And Duodenal Ulcers
There are good treatments available for ulcers, and surgery usually is not necessary. Its important to see a healthcare provider and to find out how to get an ulcer managed and healed. In most cases, ulcers from H. pylori or NSAIDs can be healed. Taking steps to prevent ulcers in the future may also be recommended.
What Kind Of Doctor Treats Peptic Ulcers
- If you suspect you may have a peptic ulcer, you may first be diagnosed by your family practitioner or internist.
- Children or teenagers may see a pediatrician.
- For further treatment you will likely be referred to a gastroenterologist, a specialist in disorders of the digestive tract.
- If you have an emergency such as vomiting or severe abdominal pain you will be seen by an emergency medicine specialist in an emergency room.
- In the rare case where surgery is needed, you may see a general surgeon.
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What Triggers Stomach Ulcer Symptoms
Stomach ulcers are irritated by stomach acid. Some people notice this irritation more after they eat, and some people notice it more on an empty stomach. There are also certain irritants that seem to make ulcer symptoms worse and make them more difficult to heal. Smoking and alcohol are the biggest ones.
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Abdominal ultrasound is not used for the diagnosis of stomach ulcer but it helps in ruling out other causes of abdominal pain or to help detect presence of fluid in the abdomen which may result from perforation of the stomach.
Other investigations that may be asked for may be used in getting the physiological condition of the individual or help rule out other disease conditions.
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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.
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How Common Are Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers are very common in Western countries. In the United States, there are about 4 million cases per year. Some estimates say that 1 in 10 people will have one at some point in their lives. Thats because many of the causes that contribute to stomach ulcers are common in Western life. Fortunately, these causes are usually easy to trace and to reverse, giving ulcers a chance to heal and your stomach lining a chance to repair.
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Rare Causes Of Stomach Bleeding
- Congenital Arteriovascular Malformation Congenital abnormalities of the artery-vein conduit for blood flow may account for stomach bleeding especially in infants and children. This may be associated with Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome. There are other types of arteriovascular malformations , some of which is mentioned below, and may not be present from birth.
- Portal Hypertensive Gastropathy Increased blood pressure within the portal vein that drains blood from the stomach towards the liver may result in the formation of varices which is prone to bleeding.
- Dieulafoy Lesion
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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What Are The Symptoms Of A Stomach Ulcer
Most people with a stomach ulcer do not experience any symptoms. The most common symptom is burning pain in the upper abdomen. The pain can travel to the chest and neck, bellybutton, or back.
Other less common symptoms include:
- feeling full and bloated, or belching
- not being able to tolerate fatty foods
Sometimes, stomach ulcers can lead to more serious symptoms, such as:
- a sudden sharp pain in the stomach that gets worse
- vomiting blood
When Should I Go To Er
Seek emergency care if you have:
- Severe pain that doesnt go away.
- Signs of blood in your poop or bloody vomit.
- Signs of severe blood loss, such as paleness and faintness.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Stomach ulcers are common and treatable, but they should be taken seriously. Even when they dont cause symptoms, they arent a good sign. A stomach ulcer means that your natural stomach acid is overwhelming your protective stomach lining. Thats a situation that can only get worse if it isnt managed. Lifestyle changes may help, but youll still need to treat the underlying cause. Its probably either NSAID use or a common bacterial infection. Your healthcare provider can help prescribe the right medicines for your condition.
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Can Stomach Ulcers Just Go Away
Some ulcers follow a chronic pattern of healing temporarily on their own and then returning. This might happen if the factors contributing to your ulcer, such as NSAID use, smoking and alcohol, are temporarily reduced and then resumed. You wont completely heal your ulcer until you eliminate the cause, whether that is chronic NSAID use, H. pylori infection or an overactive stomach. Even after successful treatment, you can get another ulcer.
Symptoms Of Ulcer In Women
This article will provide you with some basic information about ulcer symptoms and causes in cases of women. The size of ulcers is between 0,25 inch to 0,75 inch and it usually develops in the stomach duodenum. Another name for ulcer is gastritic ulcer or stomach ulcer. As the sore destroys the protective tissue of the stomach, and the ulcer appears. According to statistics and researches, this condition is very common in all areas of the world it can`t endanger your life, but it can make you feel very discomforting and uneasy.
Stomach Ulcer Causes
There is a wide disbelief that ulcer is caused by too much production of digestive acid that results in mucous lining erosion, but the real truth is that the acid doesnt play any part in ulcer development. The real cause is the break of the tissue that happens due to the imbalance between acid, pepsin and protective mucous layer in the stomach. Risk factors that can endanger that balance include bacterium Helicobacter pylori. It secretes enzyme urease and with it neutralizes the hydrochloric acid. There is also a possibility of ulcer development if a person uses non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , which include Aspirin and ibuprofen. There are some other risk factors and causes for the ulcer development and they are related to bad life habits, which means that a person who doesn’t take a proper care about the diet and lifestyle is more likely to develop this condition.
Stomach Ulcer: Symptoms
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When To See The Doctor
Peptic ulcers will get worse if theyre not treated, so contact your doctor if you have symptoms or any signs that you could have one. Unfortunately, a lot of the time the way people find out they have an ulcer is by developing bleedstheyre taking a lot of aspirin or NSAIDS and they either start vomiting blood or have black tarry stool, says Marcus.
Your doctor may be able to diagnose a peptic ulcer by talking with you about your symptoms. Be sure to disclose the frequency of NSAID use.
However, some tests are usually used to confirm the diagnosis. For instance, to see if you have an H. pylori infection, your doctor will test your blood, breath or stool. They may also look inside your stomach and duodenum by doing an endoscopy or X-ray. An endoscopy is a procedure where a lighted tube is inserted through the throat and into the stomach to check for abnormalities.
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.
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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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How Are Stomach And Duodenal Ulcers Diagnosed In A Child
Treatment will depend on your childs symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Your childs treatment will also depend on whats causing his or her ulcer. For instance, ulcers caused by H. pylori need different treatment from ulcers caused by using NSAIDs.
Your childs healthcare provider will ask about his or her health history. He or she will also give your child an exam. Your child may need more tests before his or her ulcer is diagnosed.
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What Treatments Are There For Ulcers
Your treatment will depend on the cause of your ulcer. For example, if our tests indicate that an infection caused by helicobacter pylori is what created your ulcer, well give you antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria.
Regardless of the cause, medications that help reduce the level of acid in your stomach can help the ulcer heal. And different lifestyle changes can accelerate healing as well, such as eliminating certain foods, abstaining from alcohol, and practicing stress management.
In severe cases, surgery may be required. Your provider at Prima Medicine will work with you to create a treatment plan for your situation.
If you have a stomach ulcer or want to see if you do, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today.
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Record Of Constant Bleeding
Individuals may find themselves in situations of bleeding ulcers from time to time. If the victim suffers from the problem for a relatively long time, the ulcer is likely at its advanced stage.
When the ulcer is at a stage that is considerably advanced, the sufferer may experience repeated onsets of bleeding episodes that will manifest in different ways from one time to another.
There are many signs of a bleeding ulcer that can be identified through both observation, assessment, and laboratory tests appropriate for the verification of the signs and symptoms. This will bring finer details about the underlying condition in order to draw fitting conclusions.
- Stig Borbjerg Laursen . Risk Factors for Rebleeding in Peptic Ulcer Bleeding: A Second Look at Second-Look Endoscopy.
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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.
What Are The Possible Complications Of Peptic Ulcer Disease
An ulcer left untreated may cause serious complications, including:
- Internal bleeding: While most people with ulcers wont have bleeding, this is the most common complication that can occur. A slow bleeding ulcer can cause anemia or even severe blood loss.
- Perforation: An ulcer that is continuously eroded by acid can eventually become a hole in the stomach or intestinal wall. This is intensely painful and also dangerous. It allows bacteria from the digestive tract to enter the abdominal cavity, which can lead to an infection of the abdominal cavity called peritonitis. From there, the infection is at risk of spreading to the rest of the body . This can lead to a life-threatening condition called .
- Obstruction: An ulcer in the pyloric channel, the narrow passageway that leads from the stomach into the duodenum, can become an obstruction that blocks the flow of food into the small intestine. This can happen after the ulcer has healed. Ulcers that have gone through a healing process may build up scar tissue that enlarges them. An ulcer that is big enough to obstruct the small intestine can stall the digestive process, with numerous side effects.
- Stomach cancer: Some gastric ulcers can become malignant over time. This is more likely when your ulcer is caused by H. pylori infection. H. pylori is a contributing cause of gastric cancer, though fortunately this is uncommon.
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Can Peptic Ulcers Be Prevented
Regular use of NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal problems and bleeding in some children. Acetaminophen does not cause stomach ulcers and is a good alternative to NSAIDs for most childhood conditions.