When To See A Healthcare Provider
Its important to see your healthcare provider if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above. While there are many potential causes for most of these symptoms, its important to seek answers so that appropriate treatment can be initiated no matter the cause.
Symptoms are your bodys way of alerting you to potential problems. Talk to your healthcare provider, and if you arent getting answers, ask again. Being your own advocate can make a big differencesometimes a life and death differencein getting the care you need and deserve.
Esophageal Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide
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Antacids And H2 Blockers For Peptic Ulcers
Antacids neutralize existing acid in the stomach. Antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, and Amphojel are safe and effective treatments. However, the neutralizing action of these agents is short-lived, and frequent dosing is required. Magnesium containing antacids, such as Maalox and Mylanta, can cause diarrhea, while aluminum containing agents like Amphojel can cause constipation. Ulcers frequently return when antacids are discontinued.
Studies have shown that a protein released in the stomach called histamine stimulates gastric acid secretion. Histamine antagonists are drugs designed to block the action of histamine on gastric cells and reduce the production of acid. Examples of H2 blockers are cimetidine , nizatidine , and famotidine . While H2 blockers are effective in ulcer healing, they have a limited role in eradicating H. pylori without antibiotics. Therefore, ulcers frequently return when H2 blockers are stopped.
How Do Nsaids Cause A Peptic Ulcer
To understand how NSAIDs cause peptic ulcer disease, it is important to understand how NSAIDs work. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce pain, fever, and inflammation, or swelling.
Everyone has two enzymes that produce chemicals in your bodys cells that promote pain, inflammation, and fever. NSAIDs work by blocking or reducing the amount of these enzymes that your body makes. However, one of the enzymes also produces another type of chemical that protects the stomach lining from stomach acid and helps control bleeding. When NSAIDs block or reduce the amount of this enzyme in your body, they also increase your chance of developing a peptic ulcer.
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What Is A Stomach Ulcer
A stomach ulcer, also called a gastric ulcer, is an open sore that develops in your stomach lining. You can also get one in your duodenum, the first part of the small intestine that your stomach feeds into. Duodenal ulcers and stomach ulcers are both types of peptic ulcers. Theyre named for pepsin, one of the digestive juices that are found in the stomach and that sometimes leak into the duodenum. These juices are a contributing factor in peptic ulcer disease.
Peptic ulcers occur when the protective mucous lining in your stomach and duodenum has been eroded, allowing gastric acids and digestive enzymes to eat away at your stomach and duodenal walls. This eventually results in open sores that are continually irritated by the acid. If left untreated, they can begin to cause serious complications, such as internal bleeding. Over time, they can even wear a hole all the way through. This is a medical emergency.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Peptic Ulcer
A dull or burning pain in your stomach is the most common symptom of a peptic ulcer. You may feel the pain anywhere between your belly button and breastbone. The pain most often
- happens when your stomach is emptysuch as between meals or during the night
- stops briefly if you eat or if you take antacids
- lasts for minutes to hours
- comes and goes for several days, weeks, or months
Less common symptoms may include
- feeling sick to your stomach
Even if your symptoms are mild, you may have a peptic ulcer. You should see your doctor to talk about your symptoms. Without treatment, your peptic ulcer can get worse.
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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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Peptic Ulcers
Each persons symptoms may vary. In some cases ulcers dont cause any symptoms.
The most common ulcer symptom is a dull or burning pain in your belly between your breastbone and your belly button . This pain often occurs around meal times and may wake you up at night. It can last from a few minutes to a few hours.
Less common ulcer symptoms may include:
- Feeling full after eating a small amount of food
- Bloody or black stool
Peptic ulcer symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.
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Who Suffers From Bleeding Ulcer
Some people are more susceptible to develop the condition and this is because they have the risk factors of bleeding ulcers. It is very important for high-risk people to act accordingly upon experiencing the symptoms of bleeding ulcer. Studies showed that the condition is more common in people who are:
- Affected by H. pylori infection
The H. pylori bacteria have been known to affect the normal production of stomach lining which protects the stomach from getting harmed by the stomach acid.
- Living an unhealthy lifestyle
Drinking alcohol and smoking have been associated with gastrointestinal problems because they have components that stimulate irritation to the lining of the upper digestive tract.
- Taking certain medications
The continuous intake of offending medications like NSAIDs, corticosteroid and anticoagulants can irritate the digestive tract and result in the ulcer to bleed.
- Eating spicy foods regularly
Spicy foods have been associated to bleeding ulcers because of their ability to irritate the digestive tract.
Stress has long been associated with the emergence of various health problems, including bleeding ulcers whether it is due to emotional or physical stress.
Treatment For Esophageal Ulcers
The symptoms of esophageal ulcer can be successfully alleviated with medications such as antacids, H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors. In case of a bacterial infection, antibiotics are necessary. The most common medications prescribed to people with esophageal ulcers all reduce the production of stomach acid or neutralize its harmful effects. But this is only a temporary solution. Patients with an esophageal ulcer may additionally be advised to change their diet to a more GERD friendly one, such as avoiding spicy foods and alcohol, and eliminate all the factors which may contribute to increased production of stomach acid and recurrence of the ulcers.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Peptic Ulcers
Stomach pain is the most common sign of an ulcer. It usually feels like sharp aches between the breastbone and the belly button. This pain often comes a few hours after eating. It can also happen during the night or early in the morning, when the stomach is empty. Eating something or taking acid suppressor medicine sometimes eases the pain.
Other symptoms of ulcers can include:
- loss of appetite
- burping or hiccupping a lot
How Acid Reflux Damages The Esophagus And Possible Complications
How GERD May Damage the Esophagus
The acid regurgitation can lead to a condition called esophagitis. Esophagitis is characterized by inflammation of the esophagus that often leads to ulcers, scar tissue, erosions, and difficulty in swallowing that cause pain and discomfort and even more acid regurgitation.
The condition can be diagnosed by your doctor by conducting an upper endoscopy and biopsy. Treatment begins immediately once the diagnosis is conclusive and you test positive for esophagitis.
Complications of Untreated GERD and Esophagitis
GERD should be treated immediately it is suspected. When left untreated GERD and esophagitis will corrode the esophagus further causing damage such as:
- Esophageal stricture this is narrowing of the esophagus caused by scar tissues from the effects of GERD. This constriction causes a great deal of pain and difficulty in swallowing and sometimes food is caught in the throat. This poses a great health risk and needs treatment as soon as possible.
- Esophageal ringsthese are rings formed from abnormal folding of the tissue in the lining of the esophagus. These rings can constrict the esophagus causing difficulty in swallowing.
- Barretts esophagusthis is a condition resulting from damage of the cells in the esophagus overtime. This damage causes the cells in the esophagus to become similar to the cells in the stomach lining. The condition usually has no symptoms and poses a risk of esophageal cancer.
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.
How Are Peptic Ulcers Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will look at your past health and give you a physical exam. You may also have some tests.
Imaging tests used to diagnose ulcers include:
- Upper GI series or barium swallow. This test looks at the organs of the top part of your digestive system. It checks your food pipe , stomach, and the first part of the small intestine . You will swallow a metallic fluid called barium. Barium coats the organs so that they can be seen on an X-ray.
- Upper endoscopy or EGD . This test looks at the lining of your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. It uses a thin lighted tube called an endoscope. The tube has a camera at one end. The tube is put into your mouth and throat. Then it goes into your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Your health care provider can see the inside of these organs. A small tissue sample can be taken. This can be checked for H. pylori.
You may also have the following lab tests to see if you have an H. pylori infection:
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What Is An Esophagus Ulcer
An esophagus ulcer is an open sore that forms on the lining of the esophagus, the tube that goes from the throat to the stomach. Some people who have an esophagus ulcer experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or chest pain. The most common causes are gastroesophageal reflux disease , anti-inflammatory medications, smoking, herpes, and human papillomavirus.
Patients with an esophagus ulcer often experience recurring problems. Over time, these ulcers can cause the esophagus to narrow, causing painful and difficult swallowing. Barretts esophagus can develop in patients who have recurring ulcers in the esophagus caused by GERD. Barretts esophagus is a condition where the lining of the esophagus changes, causing chest pain, heartburn, bloody vomit, and difficulty swallowing.
Esophagus ulcers are usually diagnosed by x-ray after the patient drinks a barium solution that allows the doctor to see the outline of the digestive tract clearly. Endoscopes, flexible tubes with a camera and a light, can also be inserted into the throat to look for ulcers. Once a patient is diagnosed, a doctor may check for GERD. GERD patients usually have to take medications and control their diet to help relieve symptoms.
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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Symptoms Of Esophageal Ulcers
The presence of an esophageal ulcer most commonly features with dull or burning pain. This pain is characteristic of all peptic ulcers. The pain may be localized at the back of the breastbone or it may radiate towards the neck, throat, and upper part of the chest or in extreme cases even towards the facial area. The pain may last anywhere from a few minutes to even several hours and it is usually intermittent, meaning you will experience the pain in bouts rather than constantly.
When they are healing, ulcers tend to form scar tissue. This scar tissue may cause a narrowing of the esophagus that can lead to additional symptoms and signs such as difficulties with swallowing. In the beginning, the patient may complain about problems with swallowing of solid food and in severe cases they may even have difficulties when they attempt to swallow liquids. In rather rare cases, patients with esophageal ulcers may even experience breathing difficulties.
Additional symptoms of esophageal ulcers are a sore throat and excessive production of saliva.
Some ulcers may be so deep that they affect underlying blood vessels and cause bleeding. Bleeding is not such a common symptom of esophageal ulcers. It is more a complication of an esophageal ulcer. The blood originating from the esophagus is mixed with the stool, giving it a black coloration. In severe bleeding, a patient may even vomit blood.
When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider
See your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms:
- Vomiting blood or dark material that looks like coffee grounds
- Extreme weakness or dizziness
- Blood in your stools
- Nausea or vomiting that doesnt get better, or gets worse
- A sudden, severe pain that may spread to your back
- Losing weight without even trying
Untreated peptic ulcers may cause other health problems. Sometimes they bleed. If they become too deep, they can break through your stomach.
Ulcers can also keep food from going through your stomach.
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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?
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Heartburn Chest Pain And Indigestion
A sensation of burning or pain behind the breastbone is common, and often begins after a large meal. This can be a challenging symptom as heartburn is also a symptom of acid reflux , a common risk factor for esophageal cancer. For those who have acid reflux, a change in the quality or severity of heartburn symptoms may signal the presence of cancer.
Along with burning, some people feel chest pressure and fear they are having a heart attack.
Because heart disease in women often presents with vague symptoms, such as those just discussed, symptoms of burning and pressure in the chest should always be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
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Is It An Ulcer Or Gerd
These two common digestive health problems are easily confused. Find out how doctors can tell the difference.
Either way, you should schedule a doctors visit to find out whether you have GERD or an ulcer. Both ulcers and GERD can be treated with the help of a gastroenterologist.
Ulcer or GERD: Stomach Discomfort
The two conditions are actually different, even if they make you feel equally miserable. By some estimates, one in five people experience heartburn at least weekly. Stomach discomfort can easily have a negative effect on your life, leading to:
- Problems with eating and drinking
Ulcer or GERD: Understanding the Differences
An ulcer is a small sore or lesion in the lining of your stomach or duodenum, the first part of your intestine. This sore is often aggravated by your stomach acid, but is usually not caused by the acid itself. More likely, the cause is either a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori or taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
GERD, on the other hand, means that your stomach acid is coming up from your stomach into your esophagus, causing a burning sensation and unpleasant taste in the back of your mouth. This has to occur at least twice a week to be considered GERD.
Ulcer or GERD: Know the Symptoms
An ulcer often comes with these symptoms:
Ulcer or GERD: Making the Diagnosis