What Causes Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers occur when the layer that protects the stomach lining from stomach acid breaks down, which allows the stomach lining to become damaged.
This is usually a result of:
- an infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria
- taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen or aspirin particularly if they’re taken for a long time or at high doses
It used to be thought that stress or certain foods might cause stomach ulcers, but there’s little evidence to suggest this is the case.
Read more about the causes of stomach ulcers.
What Steps Do I Need To Take Before The Procedure
Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to any medicines or if you are phenylketonuric. Follow these instructions:
- Four weeks before your test, do not take any antibiotics or Pepto-Bismol® .
- Two weeks before your test do not take any over-the-counter or prescription proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole , lansoprazole , pantoprazole , rabeprazole or esomeprazole , dexlansoprazole .
Do not stop taking any other medicine without first talking with your healthcare provider.
Food and drinks:
- One hour before the test, do not eat or drink anything .
On the day of the procedure
A healthcare provider will explain the procedure in detail and answer any questions you might have. The procedure lasts about 20 to 30 minutes.
After the procedure
- Your breath samples are sent to the laboratory where they are tested.
- You may resume your normal activities.
- No restrictions.
What Is An Ulcer
An ulcer is the result of an imbalance in digestive fluids. It occurs when the linings of the stomach or the small intestines become deeply eroded.
Ulcersrange from quite small to an inch or more in size.
Stomach ulcers are also known as gastric ulcers. Just as pepticulcers are any ulcers that affect both the stomach and small intestines.
The stomach produces a strong acid to help digest food and protect against microbes. To protect the tissues of the body from this acid, it also secretes a thick layer of mucus. If the mucus layer is worn away and stops functioning effectively, the acid can damage the stomach tissue causing an ulcer.
In some cases, the body produces too much stomach acid. As a result, the mucous lining becomes damaged or worn away. When this happens, the acid may damage the lining of the digestive tract and cause an ulcer sore.
Peptic ulcer remains a common problem in the United States. Around 10% of people will have peptic ulcer disease at some point in their life.
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What About Complicated Ulcers
While most ulcers are successfully treated with medication, some complicated ulcers may require surgery. Ulcers that are bleeding, or that have perforated your stomach or intestinal wall, will need to be surgically repaired. An ulcer that is malignant, or obstructing a passageway, will need to be surgically removed. In severe cases, an ulcer that keeps coming back may be treated by surgery to cut off some of the nerve supply to the stomach that produces stomach acid.
Stomach Ulcer Risk Factors
A few risk factors can make it more likely that a peptic ulcer will develop.
- Smoking especially in people who are already infected with H. pylori
- Drinking alcohol
- Having a family history of ulcers
Additionally, people who take NSAIDs are more likely to develop an ulcer if they:
- Are over 70 years of age
- Take high doses of NSAIDs
- Are female
- Have a personal history of ulcer disease
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Treating Helicobacter Pylori Infection
If your stomach ulcer’s caused by a Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection, you’ll be given:
- a course of antibiotics
- a medication called a proton pump inhibitor
This is also recommended if it’s thought your stomach ulcer’s caused by a combination of an H. pylori infection and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
What Causes Peptic Ulcers In Children
The leading cause of gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers is Helicobacter pylori infection although this is less often in children than in adults. Stress, diet, stomach acid and medication can all be causes of ulceration.
Here is the list of the likely causes of peptic ulcer in children .
- pylori infection: These bacteria infect the inner lining of the stomach and duodenum. The inner mucous lining protects the stomach and intestine wall from stomach acid and digestive enzymes, such as pepsin. H.pylori may cause inflammation of these mucous membranes, thus resulting in ulcer formation.
- Stress: Physical stress such as injuries, severe burns, major surgeries, etc., may cause stomach ulcers. These stress-induced gastric ulcers are called Curlings ulcers. However, emotional stress is not the cause of stress ulcer Psychological factors may only increase the perception of ulcer pain.
- Zollinger-Ellison syndrome or gastrinoma: This disease causes increased gastric acid secretion, thus causing ulcers. However, this disease is rare in the pediatric population.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines : Medications, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, may cause gastric ulcers. These medicines could be a major cause of non-HP ulceration.
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Dull Pain In The Stomach
Dull and burning pain is the most common symptom of an ulcer. The pain is felt anywhere between the belly button and the breastbone. It can also travel out from the middle of the stomach up to the neck, down to the belly button, or through to the back.
Stomach acid helps break down and absorb the food consumed. Excess stomach acid makes the pain worse because it creates painful sores within the stomach.
This kind of pain is often more severewhenever the stomach is empty such as between meals or at night. Sometimes itcan also start a few hours after eating. This pain can last for several minutesto several hours. The burning pain is sometimes made better by eating or aggravatedbetween one and three hours after a meal. This occurs when food can no longerneutralize the acid produced by the stomach.
Taking antacids may help relieve some of the pain but it doesnt help cure the ulcer. The pain will just keep coming back. Eating certain foods can help buffer stomach acid.
What Causes Peptic Ulcers
Ulcers form when digestive juices damage the walls of the stomach or small intestine. If the mucus layer gets too thin or your stomach makes too much acid, your gut will feel it. The two major causes are:
- Bacteria. Itâs called Helicobacter pylori , and as many as half of us carry it. Most people infected with H. pylori do not get ulcers. But in others, it can raise the amount of acid, break down the protective mucus layer, and irritate the digestive tract. Experts arenât sure how H. pylori infection spreads. They think it may pass from person to person through close contact, like kissing. You may also get it from unclean food and water.
- Certain pain relievers. If youâve been taking aspirin often and for a long time, youâre more likely to get a peptic ulcer. The same is true for other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . They include ibuprofen and naproxen. NSAIDs block your body from making a chemical that helps protect the inner walls of your stomach and small intestine from stomach acid. Other types of pain meds, such as acetaminophen, wonât lead to peptic ulcers.
- Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol also can make you more likely to get ulcers. Stress and eating a lot of spicy food donât cause ulcers, as experts once thought. But they can make ulcers worse and harder to treat.
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How Long Does It Take For A Stomach Ulcer To Heal
Gastric ulcers may take more time to heal than duodenal ulcers due to stomach acid. Complete cure of uncomplicated stomach ulcers and duodenal ulcers may take up to six weeks in most patients. However, the symptoms may subside much earlier, and often ulcer heals within two weeks . Ulcers caused by NSAIDs begin to heal almost immediately after cessation of drug dosage. Proton-pump inhibitors could further accelerate the healing process .
Stomach acid blockers and PPIs could cure the ulcer and provide relief from symptoms. However, the presence of H.pylori in the stomach could cause recurrent ulcers. If your child has peptic ulcers and H. pylori infection, then always seek medical help and follow the recommended treatment regimen. Ulcers can be life-threatening if left untreated, and later treatment could cause an increased risk of ulcer recurrence.
Teach your child to practice good hand hygiene from a young age. Washing hands often with soap and water could help prevent contracting H.pylori infection and other infections too.
What Complications Are Associated With Zollinger
Complications of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome are related to the overproduction of stomach acid and to the severity of the peptic ulcers. Severe peptic ulcers can:
- Penetrate to an artery, causing internal bleeding.
- Cause swelling, resulting in an obstruction in the path of food leaving the stomach.
- Cause an intestinal perforation .
The following complications of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome can be life-threatening. Seek immediate medical help if you have these symptoms:
- Black or bloody stools.
- Symptomatic anemia .
- Severe, sudden and/or persistent stomach pain.
- Vomit that looks like coffee grounds or has blood in it.
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What Are Possible Complications Of Stomach And Duodenal Ulcers In A Child
Your child could have severe complications if his or her ulcer isnt treated well. The most common problems include:
Bleeding. An ulcer can harm blood vessels. This can cause bleeding.
Hole . An ulcer can wear a hole through the wall of the stomach or duodenum. Bacteria and partially digested food can spill through the opening into the abdominal cavity . This can cause peritonitis. This is inflammation of the abdominal cavity and wall.
Narrowing and blockage . Ulcers at the end of the stomach where the duodenum is attached can cause swelling and scarring. This can narrow or close the intestinal opening. This blockage can stop food from leaving the stomach and going into the small intestine. This can cause vomiting.
Stomach cancer. H. pylori infection increases the risk for stomach cancer later in life.
If Your Ulcer Was Caused By An Anti
If possible, you should stop taking the anti-inflammatory medicine. This allows the ulcer to heal. You will also normally be prescribed an acid-suppressing medicine for several weeks. This stops the stomach from making acid and allows the ulcer to heal. However, in many cases, the anti-inflammatory medicine is needed to ease symptoms of arthritis or other painful conditions, or aspirin is needed to protect against blood clots. In these situations, one option is to take an acid-suppressing medicine each day indefinitely. This reduces the amount of acid made by the stomach and greatly reduces the chance of an ulcer forming again.
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What Causes Stomach And Duodenal Ulcers In A Child
Experts used to think that stress, diet, and stomach acid caused ulcers. Today, research shows that most ulcers form because of an infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Other things play a role, but this germ is often the main cause of most ulcers.
The following things may play a role in stomach or duodenal ulcers:
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?
When To See A Doctor For Ulcer Pain
There are several ailments that may have similar symptoms as ulcers. pain in the stomach is not sufficient to mean you are suffering from ulcer. Here is where you need to see your doctor for medical check-up for your general health condition.
Here are some signs that should make you see your doctor
Nausea and vomiting
Vomiting red or black blood
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.
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What Is The Prognosis For People Who Have Zollinger
The outlook for people with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome depends on the person. The condition can be cured if the gastrinoma is successfully removed with surgery. If surgery is not possible, in some cases Zollinger-Ellison syndrome can be managed medically. People with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome can live active lives for many years after diagnosis.
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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What To Do If You Have Stomach Cancer Or Ulcer Symptoms
- If you have burning pain in your upper stomach that is relieved by eating or taking antacids, call a health-care professional for an appointment. Don’t assume you have an ulcer. Certain other conditions can cause similar symptoms.
- If you vomit blood or have other signs of gastrointestinal bleeding, go to an emergency department right away. Peptic ulcers can cause massive bleeding, which requires blood transfusion or surgery.
- Severe abdominal pain suggests perforation or tearing of an ulcer. This is an emergency that may require surgery to fix a hole in your stomach.
- Vomiting and abdominal pain also can be a sign of an obstruction, another complication of peptic ulcers. This also may require emergency surgery.
Tail Swishing Whilst Eating
Tail swishing during feed consumption is very atypical for healthy horses and a clear sign of gastric ulcers.
Tail swishing is a sign of pain and discomfort.
The horse experiences pain through the consumption of food and its subsequent digestion and responds by swishing its tail.
Feeding and watering behaviours
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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 Are The Symptoms Of A Peptic Ulcer
Youâll most likely feel a burning pain or discomfort between your belly button and breastbone. You might especially notice it on an empty stomach such as between meals or at night. The pain may stop for a little while if you eat or take an antacid, but then return. The pain can last for a few minutes or a few hours, and may come and go for many days or weeks.
Other symptoms may include:
Small ulcers may not cause any symptoms. But if you notice any of these signs, talk to your doctor.
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