Symptoms Of Stomach Ulcers
A number of symptoms are associated with stomach ulcers. The severity of the symptoms depends on the severity of the ulcer.
The most common symptom is a burning sensation or pain in the middle of your abdomen between your chest and belly button. Typically, the pain will be more intense when your stomach is empty, and it can last for a few minutes to several hours.
Other common signs and symptoms of ulcers include:
- dull pain in the stomach
- weight loss
- heartburn, which is a burning sensation in the chest)
- pain that may improve when you eat, drink, or take antacids
- anemia, whose symptoms can include tiredness, shortness of breath, or paler skin
- dark, tarry stools
- vomit thats bloody or looks like coffee grounds
Talk to your doctor if you have any symptoms of a stomach ulcer. Even though discomfort may be mild, ulcers can worsen if they arent treated. Bleeding ulcers can become life-threatening.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
If you have stomach ulcers, you may want to ask your doctor:
- What pain reliever can I use instead of an NSAID?
- How will I know if the H. pylori infection is gone?
- How do we find out if the ulcer has healed?
- What can I do relieve symptoms at home during treatment?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Contrary to commonly held beliefs, ulcers arent caused by stress or foods you eat. Most of time, bacteria causes them. Doctors can treat the bacteria with antibiotics and other medications.
If youve been popping a lot of antacids lately, youre constantly snacking to get rid of a gnawing pain in your stomach or you have any other signs of an ulcer, the best thing you can do for your health is talk to your provider. Treatment can heal an ulcer in a matter of weeks.
Can You Prevent A Peptic Ulcer
While stress and spicy foods can make symptoms of a peptic ulcer worse, they donât seem to make you more likely to have one. But a few other things can raise your chances.
Be careful when you take pain relievers. Some people who have arthritis or other conditions that cause chronic pain take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for weeks or months at a time to ease pain and swelling. These medicines can affect the mucus that protects your stomach against acid and make you more likely to have peptic ulcers.
These pain relievers include:
You’re more likely to get an ulcer while taking one of these if you:
- Are over age 65
- Are infected with H. pylori bacteria
- Take more than one NSAID at a time
- Have had a peptic ulcer in the past
- Also take a steroid drug or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
To lower your chances for peptic ulcers while you take NSAIDs:
- Use the lowest possible dose to control your symptoms, and stop taking them as soon as you no longer need them.
- Take your medicine with food.
- Don’t drink alcohol while youâre taking these medicines.
While you’re on NSAIDs, you can take medicine to lower the amount of acid your stomach makes. Drugs that can do that include:
- H2 blockers such as cimetidine , famotidine , and nizatidine
You can also take the drug misoprostol to boost the amount of protective mucus your stomach makes. But that can cause side effects like diarrhea and stomach cramps.
You can do some things to make an infection less likely:
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How Are Ulcers Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider may be able to make the diagnosis just by talking with you about your symptoms. If you develop an ulcer and youre not taking NSAIDs, the cause is likely an H. pylori infection. To confirm the diagnosis, youll need one of these tests:
If you have severe symptoms, your provider may recommend an upper endoscopy to determine if you have an ulcer. In this procedure, the doctor inserts an endoscope through your throat and into your stomach to look for abnormalities.
H. Pylori tests
Tests for H. pylori are now widely used and your provider will tailor treatment to reduce your symptoms and kill the bacteria. A breath test is the easiest way to discover H. pylori. Your provider can also look for it with a blood or stool test, or by taking a sample during an upper endoscopy.
Less frequently, imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans are used to detect ulcers. You have to drink a specific liquid that coats the digestive tract and makes ulcers more visible to the imaging machines.
Bleeding Ulcers Symptoms And Causes
Bleeding ulcers are a big deal. Often having endoscopy is diagnostic and therapeutic. A gastroenterologist can use a fiberoptic camera to view the inside of the stomach and duodenum, searching for a source of bleeding.
Symptoms of a bleeding ulcer include:
- Abdominal discomfort after eating
- Upper abdominal burning or hunger pain 1 to 3 hours after eating or in the middle of the night
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Stretching As If To Urinate
A horse suffering from EGUS may frequently stretch out like he needs to urinate. This behavior is likely an attempt to relieve discomfort in the abdominal region and is easy to recognize.
It should be noted that horses may also stretch out like this if they are experiencing gas colic. But if your horse displays this behavior on a frequent basis, it could very well be ulcers.
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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Peptic Ulcer Facts And Picture
- Peptic ulcer are sores in the lining of the esophagus, stomach or duodenum.
- The main symptom of a stomach or duodenal ulcer is upper abdominal pain, which can be dull, sharp, or burning .
- Other associated symptoms may include:
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Feeling satiated when eating
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.
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Acid Reflux Or Heartburn
Acid reflux happens when contents from the stomach move up into the esophagus. It is also called acid regurgitation or gastroesophageal reflux. This occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter is weakened or relaxes at the wrong time. This may cause stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.
The esophageal sphincter is the muscle that tightens to prevent food in the stomach from going back up. Ulcer sores cause disruption with how this muscle functions.
Heartburn is experienced when excessive amounts of acid reflux get into the esophagus. It is described as a feeling of burning discomfort behind the breastbone. The burning then moves up toward the neck and throat. A bitter or sour taste in the back of the throat is reported to be experienced by some people. The pain and pressure brought by heartburn can last for several hours and may worsen after eating.
Is There A Peptic Ulcer Diet Plan
No particular diet is helpful for people with peptic ulcers. At one time, a bland diet and avoidance of spicy or greasy foods was recommended. Milk and dairy food have been used in the past for ulcer symptoms, but have not been proven to be effective. We now know diet has little effect on ulcers. In some people, however, certain foods seem to aggravate stomach ulcer symptoms. Keep a food diary with your intake and the resulting symptoms and avoid eating any foods that aggravate symptoms.
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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 Happens After Treatment
A repeat gastroscopy is usually advised a few weeks after treatment has finished. This is mainly to check that the ulcer has healed. It is also to be doubly certain that the ‘ulcer’ was not due to stomach cancer. If your ulcer was caused by H. pylori then a test is advised to check that the H. pylori infection has gone. This is done at least four weeks after the course of combination therapy has finished.
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What Causes An Ulcer
Most peptic ulcers are caused by:
- bacteria called Helicobacter pylori infecting the stomach and upper intestine. They weaken the protective coating of the stomach and upper small intestine. Acid in the stomach then gets through to the sensitive lining underneath. Acid and bacteria irritate this lining, causing ulcers.
- using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen and aspirin. These medicines fight inflammation and help treat long-term, painful conditions like arthritis. If taken in high doses over a long period of time, NSAIDs can cause ulcers in some people.
- smoking cigarettes. Smoking increases the risk of ulcers because nicotine causes the stomach to make more acid. Drinking a lot of alcohol each day for a period of time can also increase a person’s risk of ulcers. Over time, alcohol can wear down the lining of the stomach and intestines.
Sometimes stress can help cause ulcers. Usually this happens only when a person has an illness involving severe emotional or physical stress. Any illness that makes it hard for the body to heal also can make someone more likely to get an ulcer.
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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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.
How Stomach Ulcers Are Treated
With treatment, most stomach ulcers will heal within a month or two. The treatment recommended for you will depend on what caused the ulcer.
Most people will be prescribed a medication called a proton pump inhibitor to reduce the amount of acid their stomach produces and allow the ulcer to heal naturally.
If an H. pylori infection is responsible for the ulcers, antibiotics will also be used to kill the bacteria, which should prevent the ulcer coming back.
If the ulcers are caused by the use of NSAIDs, PPIs are usually prescribed and your doctor will discuss whether you should keep using NSAIDs.
Alternative medication to NSAIDs, such as paracetamol, may be recommended.
Stomach ulcers can come back after treatment, although this is less likely to happen if the underlying cause is addressed.
Read more about treating stomach ulcers.
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Burning Pain In Your Abdomen
This may seem like a no-brainer but the most common sign that people experience when they have a stomach ulcer is a persistent burning pain in their abdomen. This sensation occurs when juices in the stomach used for digestion come into contact with the open sore. For the most part, the pain is felt from the breastbone to navel and is often worse at night than during the day. On the other hand, if you are someone who frequently skips meals, you may find that you experience this pain much throughout the daytime.
Visceral+ For Equine Ulcers
Mad Barns Visceral+ is a comprehensive nutritional supplement designed specifically for horses with EGUS as well as other digestive issues. Visceral+ has been clinically studied in horses and shown to maintain healthy stomach tissue.
Visceral+ is formulated with the highest quality probiotic ingredients, natural nutrients, minerals, and amino acids that naturally support the bodys own healing mechanisms. This supplement provides complete nutritional support for your horses digestive system. Unlike certain ulcer treatments, it does not inhibit the natural production of stomach acid which is vital to proper digestion.
Visceral+ was developed in conjunction with veterinarians who were looking for a natural nutritional formula that could support a healthy gastro-intestinal system.
This product works in four key ways to maintain and balance the horses digestive system:
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What Are The Complications Of Ulcers
- Bleeding This can range from a trickle to a life-threatening bleed
- Perforation This is the term used to describe the ulcer having gone all the way through the wall of the stomach. It may cause severe pain and makes a patient feel very unwell.
- Stomach blockage This is a rare occurrence. An ulcer at the end of the stomach can cause the part of the stomach that goes into the duodenum to narrow and cause an obstruction. This can cause frequent severe vomiting.
- Fistula This occurs whena perforated ulcer can establish a connection with an adjacent abdominal organ or structure. Exchange of material and fluids may happen between the adjacent structures resulting in vomiting these materials or hemorrhages.