What Are The Symptoms Of Any Complications
Stomach ulcers can cause various complications but these are much less common now because of more effective treatments. However, complications can be very serious and include:
Bleeding from the ulcer
- This can range from a ‘trickle’ to a life-threatening bleed.
- If there is sudden heavy bleeding then this will cause you to vomit blood and make you feel very faint.
- Less sudden bleeding may cause you to vomit and the vomit looks coffee-coloured because the stomach acid has partly broken down the blood.
- A more gradual trickle of blood will pass through your gut and cause your stools to look very dark in colour or even black .
PerforationThis is the term used to describe the ulcer having gone all the way through the wall of the stomach. Food and acid in the stomach then leak out of the stomach. This usually causes severe pain and makes you very unwell. Stomach perforation is a medical emergency and needs hospital treatment as soon as possible.
Stomach blockageThis is now rare. An ulcer at the end of the stomach can cause the outlet of the stomach to narrow and cause an obstruction. This can cause frequent severe vomiting.
What Is The Cause Of Peptic Ulcers
When you eat, your stomach produces hydrochloric acid and an enzyme called pepsin to digest the food.
- The food is partially digested in the stomach and then moves on to the duodenum to continue the process.
- Peptic ulcers occur when the acid and enzyme overcome the defense mechanisms of the gastrointestinal tract and erode the mucosal wall.
- Now it is understood that people with ulcers have an imbalance between acid and pepsin coupled with the digestive tracts inability to protect itself from these harsh substances.
- Research done in the 1980s showed that some ulcers are caused by infection with a bacterium named Helicobacter pylori, usually called H pylori.
- Not everyone who gets an ulcer is infected with H pylori. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause ulcers if taken regularly.
Some types of medical therapy can contribute to ulcer formation. The following factors can weaken the protective mucosal barrier of the stomach increasing the chances of getting an ulcer and slow the healing of existing ulcers.
- Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , and newer anti-inflammatory medications
- Radiation therapy:-used for diseases such as cancer
People who take aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medications are at an increased risk even if they do not have H pylori infection.
What Else Can I Do
If certain foods bother you, do not eat them. You may heal faster if you do not smoke or use aspirin or ibuprofen. Acetaminophen will not hurt your stomach.
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Advice On Taking Nsaids
If your stomach ulcer has been caused by taking NSAIDs, your GP will want to review your use of them.
You may be advised to use an alternative painkiller not associated with stomach ulcers, such as paracetamol.
Sometimes an alternative type of NSAID thats less likely to cause stomach ulcers, called a COX-2 inhibitor, may be recommended.
If you do need to keep taking it, long-term treatment with a PPI or H2-receptor antagonist may be prescribed alongside the aspirin to try to prevent further ulcers.
Its important to understand the potential risks associated with continued NSAID use.
Youre more likely to develop another stomach ulcer and could experience a serious complication, such as internal bleeding.
Page last reviewed: 14 January 2022 Next review due: 14 January 2025
How Do They Solve Stomach Ulcers
What kind of surgery do they do for ulcers?
The most effective procedure for peptic ulcer disease is truncal vagotomy-antrectomy, which has a recurrence rate of less than 1%. The least morbid intervention and the fewest undesirable side effects is the proximal gastric vagotomy.
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How Is A Stomach Ulcer Treated
Treatment for stomach ulcers usually involves a combination of medications which reduce acid secretion, protect the mucosa, and kill H. pylori bacteria .
This allows ulcers to heal and reduces the chance of them will come back. All medications should be taken exactly as prescribed.
Examples of medications that may be considered to treat stomach ulcers include:
- Antibiotics to kill H. pylori
- H2 receptor blockers that reduce stomach acid production
- Proton pump inhibitors to block stomach acid production
- Protectants that coat the ulcer and protect it against acid and enzymes, enhancing healing
- Bismuth .
Rarely, surgery may be needed.
If NSAIDs have caused your stomach ulcer, your doctor may advise you to stop taking them, reduce their dosage, or switch to an alternative medicine. Follow his/her advice. Talk to your doctor before taking antacids as these may reduce the absorption of some other medications.
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How Is A Peptic Ulcer Treated
Some peptic ulcers heal on their own. But if you donât treat them, the ulcers tend to come back.
They can erode the blood vessel wall in your stomach or small intestine. The ulcers also can eat a hole through the lining and get infected. Or they can cause swelling, which may block food from moving from your stomach into your small intestine.
If H. pylori is the culprit, your doctor may prescribe a mix of antibiotics to kill it. If aspirin and other NSAIDs are behind the ulcer, you may need to cut down on them, stop taking them altogether, or switch to another pain reliever.
Your doctor may also give you antacids to fight stomach acid, or prescribe medicine to lessen the acid your body makes. Prescription drugs called cytoprotective agents can help protect the lining of the stomach or small intestine so the ulcer can heal.
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How Are Stomach Ulcers Treated With Home Remedies
Stomach ulcers are treated with antibiotics and medications to reduce and block stomach acid. Studies have shown that probiotics can be helpful in eliminating H. pylori and increasing the recovery rate of people with ulcers when added to the traditional antibiotic regimen.
Can a bleeding ulcer be treated with surgery?
Severe internal bleeding is life threatening. Puncture or severe bleeding may require surgery. Ulcers can be successfully treated and most people heal well. When treated with antibiotics and other medications, the success rate is 80-90%. The treatment will only be effective if you take all of your medications as prescribed.
When Should I Go To Er
Seek emergency care if you have:
- Severe pain that doesnt go away.
- Signs of blood in your poop or bloody vomit.
- Signs of severe blood loss, such as paleness and faintness.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Stomach ulcers are common and treatable, but they should be taken seriously. Even when they dont cause symptoms, they arent a good sign. A stomach ulcer means that your natural stomach acid is overwhelming your protective stomach lining. Thats a situation that can only get worse if it isnt managed. Lifestyle changes may help, but youll still need to treat the underlying cause. Its probably either NSAID use or a common bacterial infection. Your healthcare provider can help prescribe the right medicines for your condition.
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Are Prescription Nsaids Better
NSAIDs are available both over-the-counter and as a prescription medication. It is very important to understand that while there are differences between prescription and non-prescription NSAIDs, this difference is not the potential relief of symptoms. Many patients find their best response from over-the-counter NSAIDs.
There has been no study showing that newer NSAIDs , prescription NSAIDs, or more expensive NSAIDs treat pain or swelling any better than more traditional NSAID medications. Most of the research evaluating the effects of NSAIDs has been done using over-the-counter ibuprofen.
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Treatment Options For Ulcers
Ulcers caused by H. pylori will most likely need to be treated with antibiotics. Strict adherence to your treatment plan and close follow-up with your doctor are the best ways to make sure your treatments are effective and your ulcers are healing.
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Foods To Help Prevent Symptoms
Gastritis involves inflammation of the stomach lining. For this reason, an anti-inflammatory diet may help some people.
There is no single best anti-inflammatory diet. To combat inflammation, eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods, which are rich in antioxidants. It is also important to avoid processed foods and any containing unhealthful fats and added salt or sugar.
Learn more about an anti-inflammatory diet here.
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Nsaids And Stomach Ulcers
The risk of ulcers increases if the drugs are taken in high doses or regularly for a long time.
Stronger NSAIDs, such as those available on prescription, carry a greater risk of stomach ulcers than those that people can buy over the counter.
A person should always check labels and consult a pharmacist or a doctor about any concerns regarding using pain relief medication. They may recommend an alternative, such as acetaminophen.
Foods To Eat With A Peptic Ulcer
A bland diet is generally your best bet when dealing with a peptic ulcer. These foods are low in acidity, saturated fats, and spiciness.
Another rule of thumb is to choose foods that are high in dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Studies have shown that fiber-rich diets reduce the risk of peptic ulcers by lowering stomach acids. Foods that are rich in vitamin A have similar effects.
Foods that are probiotic can speed healing by blocking H. pylori from attaching to the lining of the stomach. Probiotic-rich foods include pickled vegetables as well as certain fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir.
Foods rich in flavonoids are also believed to inhibit the growth of H. pylori in the gut. These plant-based nutrients are found in berries and many other fruits and vegetables.
Among the foods you can eat if you have a peptic ulcer are:
- Bean and legumes, which are fiber-rich
- Eggs, which are rich in vitamin A
- Fish, including fatty fish that are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats
- Fiber-rich fruits, like apples, bananas, strawberries, and raspberries
- Flavonoid-rich foods, like cranberries, kale, broccoli, celery, and all berries
- Leafy green vegetables, which are rich in vitamin A
- Orange and yellow vegetables, like sweet potatoes and summer squash that are also rich in vitamin A
- Pickled foods, like kimchi, sauerkraut, and dill pickles
- Lean meats and poultry
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When Stomach Pain Is And Is Not An Emergency
Most stomach pains are harmless. They may be caused by overeating, gas or indigestion. If your pain is short-term, goes away after passing gases or stools and with over-the-counter products or home remedies, there is nothing to worry about.
If your belly pain is severe, doesn’t go away or it keeps coming back, talk to your doctor.
You may have belly pain because of some problem that needs to be treated immediately. You should contact your doctor in an emergency rather than use self-care if you have the following:
- Pain accompanied by a fever over 38.3 C or 101 F
- Severe pain, fainting or inability to move
- Pain that starts all over the belly but settles into one area, especially the lower right part of the belly
- Extremely tender-to-the-touch and swollen belly
- Pain lasting for more than a few hours
- Extreme discomfort/pain in the belly
- Unable to keep food down for more than two days
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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Beyond Diet: How To Help A Peptic Ulcer
In the past, people with peptic ulcers were often sent home to care for themselves until the sore healed itself. Today, the eradication of H. pylori is the central concern in the majority of cases. It is only by eliminating the bacteria that recurrence can be fully prevented.
While other things can cause peptic ulcers, such as the overuse of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , H. pylori accounts for 85% to 95% of all cases.
In addition to changes in diet, the treatment of peptic ulcers will typically involve one or more of the following:
- Antibiotics: These are prescription antibacterial drugs used in combination to kill H. pylori. Options include Flagyl , Amoxil , clarithromycin, and tetracycline.
- Proton pump inhibitors : These are over-the-counter and prescription drugs used to reduce stomach acids. Options include Prilosec , Prevacid , Nexium , and Protonix .
- Histamine-2 receptor blockers: These are over-the-counter and prescription drugs aslo used to reduce stomach acids. Options include Pepcid AC , Tagamet HB , and Axid AR .
- Antacids: These are over-the-counter agents used to neutralize stomach acids. These include Tums , Milk of Magnesia , and Pepto-Bismol .
- Cytoprotective agents These are prescription drugs ed to protect the lining of your stomach and small intestine. Options include Carafate and Cytotec .
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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What If A Peptic Ulcer Doesn’t Heal
Most often, medicines heal a peptic ulcer. If an H. pylori infection caused your peptic ulcer, you should finish all of your antibiotics and take any other medicines your doctor prescribes. The infection and peptic ulcer will heal only if you take all medicines as your doctor prescribes.
When you have finished your medicines, your doctor may do another breath or stool test in 4 weeks or more to be sure the H. pylori infection is gone. Sometimes, H. pylori bacteria are still present, even after you have taken all the medicines correctly. If the infection is still present, your peptic ulcer could return or, rarely, stomach cancer could develop. Your doctor will prescribe different antibiotics to get rid of the infection and cure your peptic ulcer.