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.
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.
Nsaid Drugs And Stomach Ulcers
A group of painkillers known as NSAIDs carries a risk of stomach ulcers. The two best-known NSAIDs are aspirin and ibuprofen.
The risk of ulcers increases if the drugs are taken in high doses, or regularly for a long time.
Stronger NSAIDs, such as those that need a prescription, are riskier for stomach ulcers than those that can be bought over-the-counter .
People should always check labels and talk to a pharmacist or a doctor about any concerns with using painkillers. They may recommend an alternative such as acetaminophen.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
You should visit your GP if you think you may have a stomach ulcer.
Seek urgent medical advice if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- vomiting blood the blood can appear bright red or have a dark brown, grainy appearance, similar to coffee grounds
- passing dark, sticky, tar-like stools
- a sudden, sharp pain in your tummy that gets steadily worse
These could be a sign of a serious complication, such as internal bleeding.
When Its Time For Urgent Care
Dr. Andrew W. Nangalama and the team at American River Urgent Care recommend that you seek diagnostic evaluation for your stomach pain when it lasts longer than a week or when it gets more severe, even with rest and home care.
Watch for these signs your stomach pain may need medical attention:
- Pain and bloating that lasts for more than two days
- Pain or burning during urination
- Persistent bloating
- Unexplained weight loss
Contact the office whenever stomach or abdominal pain is severe enough to interfere with your quality of life and ability to function. Note that some stomach or abdominal conditions may require computed tomography scans for diagnosis, so you may be directed to an emergency room if necessary.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Mouth Ulcer
There are three types of mouth ulcer that each have various looking sores.
- Minor- these sores are small, oval, and round ulcers in the mouth that heal within a week or two with no scarring.
- Major- these sores are larger and deeper than minor ulcers. They have irregular edges and take up to 6 weeks to heal. Long-time scarring is highly likely with these kinds of sores.
- Herpetiform- these sores are pinpoint size and occur in clusters. These have irregular edges and heals within 1-2 weeks. Scarring is not very likely.
You should see a healthcare provider if you develop any of the following:
- Unusually large sores
- New ulcers form before old ones heal or any sores that last for more than 3 weeks
- Painless sores
What Causes Peptic Ulcers
Peptic ulcer form when stomach acid damages the walls of the stomach and small intestine. The causes are: Bacteria- Although H. pylori is common in most peoples bodies, some individuals react to the bacteria differently in that their stomach acid production quantity increases which leads to the mucus layer breaking down and irritating the digestive tract. Certain pain relievers- Frequent Aspirin usage over a long-time period can increase likelihood of a peptic ulcer. NSAIDs like ibuprofen block your body from making a chemical that protects your inner stomach and small intestine walls from stomach acid.Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can also increase the likelihood of developing an ulcer. Stress and eating spicy foods do not cause ulcers, but they may perpetuate them.
There is no definite cause behind mouth ulcers, but there are many factors that may include:
- Minor mouth injuries- dental work, brushing, or accidental biting
- Toothpastes and mouth rinses containing sodium lauryl sulfate
- Food sensitivity to acidic food- strawberries, citrus, or coffee
- Lack of essential vitamins- B12, zinc, folate, and iron
- Allergic response to bacteria
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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.
What Not To Eat With A Gastric Ulcer
Some food items tend to increase the production of stomach acids which even worsens gastric ulcers. So it is better to avoid such food items which include:
Summary: It is better to avoid those food items which increase the secretion of stomach acids as these acids are the main cause of gastric ulcers.
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Is Banana Good For Ulcer
Both raw and ripe bananas are found to be very beneficial in curing stomach ulcer. There are certain antibacterial compounds in bananas that inhibit the growth of ulcer-causing H. pylori. Bananas are best to clear out the acidity of gastric juices that lowers the inflammation and strengthens the stomach lining.
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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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You Think You Broke Or Tweaked Something
Where you should go depends on what the what is. In short: Minor broken bones would be a case for urgent care, while major broken bones should be treated at the ER.
Heres another way to decide: rolled your ankle and think it might be broken or sprained, but it doesnt look deformed? Small breaks like that, which wont require straightening of the bone, can be splinted in urgent care centers, says Roth. If that ankle is flopping around or visibly deformed, seek emergency care.
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How Can I Prevent A Stomach Ulcer From Occurring Or Returning
- Reduce NSAID use, if possible. Consider whether acetaminophen might substitute. If you take NSAIDs for medical reasons, talk to your doctor about reducing your dosage or switching your medication. Your doctor may also prescribe another medicine to take with NSAIDs to protect your stomach lining.
- Reduce other irritants that may contribute to too much stomach acid or erode your stomach lining, including smoking and alcohol use.
- Take an H. pylori breath test to find out if you have an overgrowth of the bacteria.
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Should I Go To Urgent Care For Gastric Ulcer
People who don’t seek any medical attention or seek therapy or don’t follow their treatment plan are more likely to experience complications. Ulcers are dangerous, yet they are rarely fatal. Internal bleeding, perforation, and intestinal obstruction are among the serious side effects of ulcers.
You should take urgent medical care if you face any of the following symptoms:
- Intense stomach pain
- Blood in vomit or in your stool
- Hard or painful abdomen that doesn’t go away
- Trouble breathing
Summary: Ulcers in the stomach can be extremely dangerous. Bleeding at the ulcer site, and breaking of the stomach lining at the ulcer’s site are the most common consequences.
What To Eat And Not To Eat With A Stomach Ulcer
Stomach Ulcers, also commonly known and referred to as Gastric Ulcer, are a painful digestive problem where open sores usually develop on the stomach lining. This problem is likely to occur more in men as compared to their female counterparts. Apart from the sores in the stomach lining, such sores can also occur in various parts of the intestine especially lying just beyond the stomach.
Such sores are usually referred to as Duodenal Ulcers. However, even the duodenal ulcers are commonly referred to as Stomach Ulcers or Peptic Ulcers. In fact, the entire digestive tracts of individuals are susceptible to get affected by ulcers including the lower throat or esophagus. Since this kind of sores is related to the stomach and adjoining areas, the kind of food would have a direct impact and contact with such sores. Thus, it is important to know what to eat and what not to eat with a stomach ulcer.
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What Are The Treatments For A Stomach Ulcer
Treatment for a stomach ulcer depends, in part, on the cause. If nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the probable cause, stopping use will help the ulcer heal. If you normally take NSAIDs for a chronic condition, ask your doctor about alternate anti-inflammatory drugs.
If the cause is Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection, antibiotic therapy is the mainstay of treatment. It is important to follow the antibiotic regimen precisely to avoid reinfection or recurrence. Most commonly, two antibiotics are prescribed for 14 days.
- Do not smoke: Smoking affects how the digestive system neutralizes stomach acid and inhibits healing.
- Limit or do not drink alcohol. This drug irritates the lining of the digestive tract.
- Relax. Even though emotional stress does not cause ulcers, stress can interfere with recovery. Practice stress reduction techniques, such as exercise, meditation, and get togethers with friends.
- Take acetaminophen for pain and fever. It is safer to take acetaminophen than ibuprofen and other NSAIDs for pain relief and fever when you have a stomach ulcer or if you develop frequent ulcers. NSAIDs are very effective, but they increase the risk of bleeding.
How To Know Where To Go For Sudden Health Care Needs
All too often, illness or injury appears out of the blue: You wake up in the middle of the night with intense abdominal pain. You stumble while carrying groceries up a flight of stairs, and can no longer put weight on your swollen ankle. Or your baby spikes a high fever on the weekend.
When these situations occur, were often faced with uncertainty about where to go for care, especially if the symptoms seem severe and our regular doctors office is closed.
While the answer is not always simple, knowing the difference between walk-in clinics, urgent care and emergency care and where to seek treatment could save your life in a medical emergency.
The differences between walk-in clinics, urgent care and the emergency room
Recognizing the differences between emergency and urgent care can be confusing, because both terms imply there is a medical need that needs to be addressed quickly, says Shawn Evans, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. However, there are distinct differences between hospital emergency rooms, traditional urgent care centers or walk-in clinics, including the level of care that can be provided at each.
Urgent care or walk-in clinics help fill a vital gap when you become sick or injured, but your regular doctor is not available and you cant wait for an appointment.
When to go to the ER
Symptoms that are best evaluated in an emergency room include:
When to call 911
When to go to urgent care
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When Should I Go To The Er For Abdominal Pain
How do you know when stomach pain is serious? If you are having any doubt about the type of chest and abdominal pain that you are experiencing or your chest pain includes any of the following symptoms, please call 911 immediately.
- Chest pain that spreads to your jaw, left arm, or back
- A sudden feeling of pressure, squeezing, tightness, or crushing under your breastbone
- Nausea, dizziness, rapid heart rate or rapid breathing, confusion, ashen color, or excessive sweating
- Very low blood pressure or very low heart rate
- Sudden sharp chest pain with shortness of breath, especially after a long period of inactivity
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Presence Of Blood In Stool
When the person uses the toilet, he may experience and be surprised with the presence of a blood in the stool discharge. It is one of the most well-known symptoms of a bleeding ulcer.
If the person goes for a long call of nature and notices dark red traces of blood in the feces, he should seek medical assistance. Blood traces in the stool of a given individual is reasonable enough to believe that he may be experiencing a problem of bleeding ulcers within the digestive track.
It is important to note that blood in the stool is an indicative sign and symptom of internal bleeding ulcers that needs to be confirmed through examinations by a medical professional.
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How Are Peptic Ulcers Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, NSAID usage, and medical history. This information along with checking for bloating will tell your healthcare provider enough to be able to diagnose you. However, to be absolutely sure about an ulcer, your doctor must take a look inside. An x-ray or endoscopy will help in this process.
What Are The Symptoms Of Gastric Ulcers
Gastric ulcers symptoms depend upon the severity of symptoms. The most common symptom is a burning sensation in the abdomen. A gastric ulcer pain after eating a meal or during nighttime. Also, many people with ulcers don’t even have symptoms.
Ulcers may cause severe Gastric Ulcer Symptoms such as:
Summary: Gastric ulcers signs are painful sores in the lining of the stomach which include a number of symptoms depending upon the severity of the disease.
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Emergency Signs Accompanying Abdominal Pain
Abdominal pain can be an indicator of a life-threatening condition. If your pain is sudden or severe, come to the ER right away. If the pain is in the mid-to-lower right side, come to the ER for evaluation.
Come to the ER immediately if your abdominal pain comes with:
- Yellowing skin
- Pink urine or difficulty urinating
Theres a reason for your abdominal pain and it shouldnt be ignored. Any time you are suffering from pain or chronic ache, you should be seen by a qualified physician. We have a range of helpful diagnostic tools, such as lab tests, CT scan, ultrasound and X-ray right here for easy access, said Dr. Vora. If you are experiencing abdominal pain, come right in and let us help you.
When To Go To Urgent Care For Stomach Pain
When to go to Urgent Care for Stomach pain
Many times, stomach pain is a symptom of an acute issue like food poisoning or appendicitis. And if you have abdominal pain on top of diarrhea and vomiting , go to urgent care. Delaying treatment for these acute issues can result in serious complications and long-term health problems. So remember: when youre vomiting blood or experiencing severe abdominal pain, dont hold offgo straight to urgent care.
Common stomach pain can be caused by a number of different factors, including gas, stress, overeating and more. If youre having constant severe pain or youre vomiting regularly, it may be a good idea to head over to urgent care. There are several signs and symptoms that should have you considering urgent care: Persistent Nausea : If your nausea is consistent and doesnt get better after taking an anti-nausea medication such as Zofran or Kytril , you may have something more serious than an upset stomach.
Frequent stomach pain is a symptom of many different conditions. Gastrointestinal distress can be caused by a number of things, such as indigestion or food allergies. Left untreated, it can lead to more serious issues like ulcers and even cancer. If you notice persistent stomach pain accompanied by vomiting, fever or other symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Also consult your doctor if youre experiencing bloody stool, abdominal cramps that dont subside or sudden weight loss.
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