Common Warning Signs Of Ulcers
Ulcers are a common medical issue that affects about one in ten people in America. They occur when acid in the digestive tract eats away at the inner surface of the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. The acid can create a painful open sore that may bleed. You can get them anywhere on your body for any reason, but the most common form of ulcers occur in your stomach.
Although there is no single cause for an ulcer, many factors can increase your risk of stomach ulcers including painkillers, excessive drinking of alcohol and smoking tobacco. Luckily, ulcers are easy to treat once you recognize the symptoms of them. Here are five common signs of a stomach ulcer:
Abdominal Pain: A burning sensation may occur in your stomach. The pain will come and go in waves and is often accompanied by bloating. Many may confuse this feeling with acid reflux or other similar diseases. If the abdominal pain starts after you eat, keeps you up at night, and lasts a prolonged period it might be an ulcer.
Nausea: Due to the imbalance in your digestive system, mild to severe nausea may occur, either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, or after eating. Because of nausea that will occur, rapid weight loss also comes in conjunction with it as well.
Bloating: A feeling of heaviness and fullness can occur in the stomach, usually the same feeling you get after drinking a full glass of water.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have A Stomach Ulcer
Always seek medical care for a stomach ulcer. While you may be able to manage symptoms temporarily with over-the-counter medications, these wont heal the ulcer. You need to identify and treat the underlying cause. An untreated ulcer can lead to serious complications, even if your symptoms are mild. The major cause of stomach ulcers, H. pylori infection, can also lead to other complications.
How Can My Doctor Diagnose My Stomach Ulcer
Depending on the availability and cost, following the test, your doctor may ask for
- Antibody blood test
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What Are The Signs You Have A Stomach Ulcer
“The symptoms of a stomach ulcer are often similar to a regular upset stomach,” says Andrew Boxer, MD, a gastroenterologist at Jersey City Medical Center in New Jersey. “But usually, the symptoms of an ulcer will not go away.”
The symptoms can vary widely. “Some patients are completely asymptomatic, while some patients experience the worst pain of their life. There can also be anything in between,” says Boxer. “Some patients may see blood in their stool or even vomit blood. In rare instances, an ulcer can cause an obstruction, and the patient will have nausea and vomiting. Because ulcers can involve bleeding, some patients may show anemia or a lack of hemoglobin on a blood test.”
The most common symptom is upper abdominal pain, says Alex Spinoso, MD, of Genesis Lifestyle Medicine in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Occasionally the discomfort localizes to the right or left upper quadrants of the hypochondrium, the areas right below the chest on either flank where there are still ribs.”
Typically, pain associated with a stomach ulcer happens two to five hours after a meal, when the stomach secretes acid and is mostly empty, and at night when acid secretion normally increases, says Spinoso. Without treatment, ulcer pain may last a few weeks, followed by symptom-free periods of weeks or months.
Peptic Ulcers Can Be Gastric Or Duodenal
An ulcer develops either in the stomach, known as a gastric ulcer, or in the upper part of the small intestine, called duodenal ulcers.
An ulcer is a painful sore which develops in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. Normally a mucus protects your stomach lining but acid can eat away at it. An ulcer forms when the mucus is decreased and acid increases, but why does that happen?
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How Is It Diagnosed
Stomach ulcers are diagnosed through a review of medical history along with the symptoms experienced by the patient. Doctors would also want to know if there are any other prescriptions or over-the-counter medications involved.
Doctors would also do a physical examination. They will check for bloating in the belly and pain.
To determine if H. pylori are involved, a blood, stool or breath test may be conducted. A breath test involves drinking a clear liquid and breathing into a bag that will be then sealed after. If the breath sample contains high levels of carbon dioxide, H. pylori are present.
X-rays or a test called endoscopy can also be conducted. These tests can accurately determine the presence of an ulcer. An endoscopy involves a thin, bendy tube that is moved down the throat and into the stomach and small intestine. The tube has a camera at the end that can check the lining for ulcers.
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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When To Contact A Doctor
Anyone who thinks they may have an ulcer in their stomach should consult a doctor. Any stomach symptoms that last for more than a few days or keep happening need evaluation and treatment.
Symptoms of anemia, such as tiredness and breathlessness, may signal a slow-bleeding ulcer. More serious bleeding is an urgent medical problem, as people may vomit up blood, or stools are black and sticky.
Perforation is also an emergency. Without quick treatment, the wall of the stomach can become infected. Sudden stomach pain that gets worse can indicate perforation, and any signs of being very unwell with infection need treatment as soon as possible.
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
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Smelly And Tarry Discharge
Another very important symptom that can give a hint that a person is suffering from a bleeding ulcer is the passing of a stinky smelling and tarry discharge from the rectum in the form of unusual dark stools. This can help identify signs of gastric ulcer currently in the course of bleeding which may have been actively bleeding for a significant period of time.
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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 Triggers Stomach Ulcer Symptoms
Stomach ulcer symptoms are irritated by several triggers. They include:
- Stomach acid â some people notice it after they eat while others notice it more on an empty stomach
Our site is the source of information about the gastroenterology related conditions and procedures. This information is intended for patients looking to learn about our gastroenterology practice in New York and make an appointment to see one of our physicians. This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult a doctor or GI specialist about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. Terms and conditions are subject to change.
Prevention Of Peptic Ulcers
Using alternatives to NSAIDs, like acetaminophen, to relieve pain can help prevent peptic ulcers. If you need to use an NSAID, opt for the lowest dose and take it with a meal.
Peptic ulcers caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori are not usually preventable, but good hygiene such as washing your hands thoroughly before eating and after using the bathroom may help limit the spread.
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How Do H Pylori Cause A Peptic Ulcer And Peptic Ulcer Disease
H. pylori are spiral-shaped bacteria that can cause peptic ulcer disease by damaging the mucous coating that protects the lining of the stomach and duodenum. Once H. pylori have damaged the mucous coating, powerful stomach acid can get through to the sensitive lining. Together, the stomach acid and H. pylori irritate the lining of the stomach or duodenum and cause a peptic ulcer.
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How Do You Know If You Have A Stomach Ulcer
If you have a stomach ulcer, you may have:
- Burning/dull pain or gnawing pain in the center of your tummy
- Pain that worsens between meals
- Vomiting in the middle of the night
Visit the doctor/gastroenterologist if you
- Vomit blood that is bright red or dark brown
- Are passing dark, sticky, tar-like poo
- Have sudden, sharp pain in your tummy that gets worse steadily
- These could be the signs of internal bleeding, and this can be fatal.
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How Are Stomach Ulcers Treated
Ulcers can heal if they are given a rest from the factors that created them. Healthcare providers treat uncomplicated ulcers with a combination of medicines to reduce stomach acid, coat and protect the ulcer during healing and kill any bacterial infection that may be involved. Medicines may include:
- Antibiotics. If H. pylori was found in your digestive tract, your healthcare provider will prescribe some combination of antibiotics to kill the bacteria, based on your medical history and condition. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include tetracycline, metronidazole, clarithromycin and amoxicillin.
- Proton pump inhibitors . These drugs help reduce stomach acid and protect your stomach lining. PPIs include esomeprazole,dexlansoprazole,lansoprazole, omeprazole,pantoprazole and rabeprazole.
- Histamine receptor blockers . These reduce stomach acid by blocking the chemical that tells your body to produce it . H2 blockers include famotidine, cimetidine and nizatidine.
- Antacids. These common over-the-counter medicines help to neutralize stomach acid. They may bring some symptom relief, but they arent enough to heal your ulcer. They also might interfere with some antibiotics.
- Cytoprotective agents. These medicines help to coat and protect your stomach lining. They include sucralfate and misoprostol.
- Bismuth Subsalicylate. This over-the-counter medicine, commonly found as Pepto-Bismol, can help coat and protect your ulcer from stomach acid.
Can Stomach Ulcers Be Treated
Yes, stomach ulcers can heal well with a medication regimen. The type of treatment will depend on what caused your ulcer.
If your stomach ulcer was caused by a H. pylori bacterial infection, youll likely receive antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor medication. The antibiotics could include:
The PPIs that you will also be prescribed will block the production of stomach acid. There are both prescription and over-the-counter PPI medications, including:
You may also end up taking histamine blockers, or H-2 blockers, that reduce the stomach acid released into your digestive tract. The reduction of stomach acid can promote healing and lessens the pain you may be feeling. Your doctor may prescribe these or you could take over-the-counter medications such as:
- Axid AR
- Pepcid AC
- Tagamet HB
Your doctor may also prescribe antacids to help with symptom relief. There are also medications called cytoprotective agents to protect the lining of your stomach, such as Carafate and Cytotec .
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Other Causes And Factors
Other causes are rare. For example, some viral infections can cause a stomach ulcer. Crohns disease may cause a stomach ulcer in addition to other problems of the gut.
Stomach cancer may at first look similar to an ulcer. Stomach cancer is uncommon but may need to be ruled out if you are found to have a stomach ulcer.
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.
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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.
What Is The Treatment For Ulcers
If you have ulcer symptoms, see your doctor. Prompt treatment can prevent excessive bleeding and other complications.
Ulcers are usually diagnosed after an upper GI endoscopy . An endoscope is a long flexible tube with a light and camera on the end. The tube is inserted into your throat, then to the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine. Learn how to prepare for an endoscopy here.
Generally performed as an outpatient procedure, it allows the doctor to locate and identify problems in the stomach and upper intestine.
Bleeding ulcers must be addressed quickly, and treatment can start during the initial endoscopy. If bleeding from ulcers is found during the endoscopy, the doctor can:
- inject medication directly
- cauterize the ulcer to stop the bleeding
- clamp off the bleeding vessel
If you have an ulcer, youll be tested for H. pylori. This can be done using a tissue sample taken during the endoscopy. It can also be accomplished with noninvasive tests such as a stool sample or breath test.
If you have the infection, antibiotics and other drugs can help fight the bacteria and ease symptoms. To be certain you get rid of it, you must finish taking the medication as directed, even if your symptoms stop.
If your ulcers are the result of taking too many NSAIDs, work with your doctor to find another medication to treat pain.
Over-the-counter antacids sometimes relieve symptoms. Ask your doctor if its okay to take antacids.
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Signs You May Have An Ulcer
Did you know that stomach ulcers also called peptic ulcers affect at least 1 in 10 Americans over the course of their lives? And while stomach ulcers can be treated easily when caught early, lack of medical care can lead to serious complications.
Understanding the signs of stomach ulcers is important in helping you get the treatment you need. At Prima Medicine in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, our care team has the experience and knowledge to diagnose and treat stomach ulcers. Weve curated this guide to help you recognize the warning signs of an ulcer and understand what you can do about it.