How Are Peptic Ulcers Diagnosed
If your doctor suspects you might have a peptic ulcer, he will take a full medical history and perform a physical exam. Diagnostic tests you might take include:
- Lab test for H. pylori A blood, stool, or breath test may be used to determine whether H. pylori bacteria are present in your body.
- Endoscopy During this procedure, a hollow tube with a lens will be passed down your throat to your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. This will allow your doctor to look for a peptic ulcer and take a biopsy if one is present.
- Barium swallow For this test, you will swallow a white liquid containing barium, which coats your digestive tract. A series of X-rays of your upper digestive system will be taken and the liquid makes the ulcer more visible.
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.
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.
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If Food Isnt The Culprit How Did We Get Here
Say hello to Helicobacter pylori , the bacteria best known for causing stomach ulcers and gastritis .
Gastritis occurs when the stomach lining weakens, allowing stomach acid to seep in and create a burning sensation, typically felt in the middle part of your stomach and chest.
Whats more, salty and fatty foods can actually alter the cells in your stomach, increasing the likeliness of an H. pylori infection. Adios potato chips!
No taco shaming!
While a specific diet wont cause stomach ulcers, research shows that certain foods may help your body fight off that ulcer-causing H. pylori.
The best preventative defense against H. pylori includes *wait for it* fruits, veggies, and probiotics. Shocking, we know. They help protect your gut, fight bacteria, strengthen your immune system, and more.
Add these to your shopping list:
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Purpose Of Stomach Ulcer Surgery
Peptic ulcers can cause pain, stomach discomfort, abdominal cramps, decreased appetite, hematemesis, gastrointestinal bleeding, iron deficiency anemia , and malnutrition.
Generally, the condition can be effectively treated with medication and lifestyle changes, rather than with surgical intervention. Smoking and alcohol use can contribute to stomach ulcers, and stopping these habits can help an ulcer heal. Sometimes dietary modifications, like avoiding spicy foods, can help control symptoms.
Surgical management may be needed for complications of peptic ulcer disease or for treatment of a stomach ulcer that doesnt improve despite conservative management.
Issues that may warrant surgical intervention for the treatment of peptic ulcer disease include:
These issues can cause persistent and serious health problems. Stomach ulcer surgery would be done to alleviate your symptoms and prevent consequences to your overall health.
If your stomach ulcers caused by a Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection, youll be given:
- a course of antibiotics
- a medication called a proton pump inhibitor
This is also recommended if its thought your stomach ulcers caused by a combination of an H. pylori infection and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
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If Your Ulcer Was Caused By Helicobacter Pylori
Most stomach ulcers are caused by infection with H. pylori. Therefore, a main part of the treatment is to clear this infection. If this infection is not cleared, the ulcer is likely to return once you stop taking acid-suppressing medication. For more information, see the separate leaflet called Helicobacter Pylori.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Bleeding Ulcer
Bleeding ulcers dont always cause pain. Sometimes the first signs of a bleeding ulcer are signs of anemia. These include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
You might have a heavier bleed if you notice:
- Blood in your poop, or black poop that resembles tar.
- Bloody vomit.
These symptoms require urgent medical attention.
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What Are Leg Ulcers
Leg ulcers are sores that develop on broken or injured skin. Usually, they are more prominent right above the ankles, on the inner side of your legs.
Other than skin injuries, leg ulcers may also develop as a result of an underlying medical condition. The diseases which may lead to the development of leg ulcers are discussed briefly below.
Can An Ulcer Be Cured
Ulcers, commonly referred to as ââGastric ulcersââ or ââPeptic ulcersââ are open sores whose developmental sites are stomach and duodenum. The treatment of ulcers depend upon its cause and it usually gets healed in a month or two. Recommended treatment involves medication such as Antibiotics and Proton Pump inhibitors in case of bacterial infection or the same in combination with NSAIDS.
Alternative medications include H2-receptor antagonists, antacids etc. In addition, avoiding stress, alcohol, smoking, spicy foods etc. may help.
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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.
How Do Doctors Treat An Nsaid
If NSAIDs are causing your peptic ulcer and you dont have an H. pylori infection, your doctor may tell you to
- stop taking the NSAID
- reduce how much of the NSAID you take
- switch to another medicine that wont cause a peptic ulcer
Your doctor may also prescribe medicines to reduce stomach acid and coat and protect your peptic ulcer. Proton pump inhibitors , histamine receptor blockers, and protectants can help relieve pain and help your ulcer heal.
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Read The Ingredients Of All Medicines
Painkillers like aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen can show up in the most unlikely places. For instance, many over-the-counter medicines for colds also contain doses of pain reliever. So make sure you know what you’re getting.
Even some antacids contain aspirin, which can be a special risk to people with ulcers
Tell your doctor about all medicines, herbs, and supplements that you use.
Interactions are a real danger. For instance, taking NSAIDs along with some common medicines, like some corticosteroids and blood thinners can increase the risks for people with ulcers.
Your doctor needs to know about all the medicines you take before you’re prescribed a new medicine. Don’t forget to mention over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies, and vitamins. Bring a list of all the medicines and supplements you take to your doctor. It could actually save your life.”
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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Using Unverified Herbal Treatments To Relieve Ulcer Pain
How Is It Diagnosed
See your doctor if you have persistent signs and symptoms that worry you. Over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers may relieve the gnawing pain, but the relief is short-lived. If the stomach ulcer pain persists, see your doctor.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, medical history and give you a physical examination.
To be sure of a stomach ulcer diagnosis, you will need to undergo diagnostic tests, such as:
- Tests for H. pylori: These tests include your blood, stool and breath
- An endoscopy: A scope is used to examine your upper digestive system. Your doctor passes a hollow tube equipped with a lens down your throat and into your oesophagus, stomach and small intestine. If an ulcer is detected, small tissue samples may be removed for examination in a lab.
- X-ray of your upper digestive system: Sometimes called a barium swallow or upper gastrointestinal series, this series of X-rays creates images of your oesophagus, stomach and small intestine.
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What Is An Ulcer
Ulcers are open sores on the inner lining of the lower esophagus, stomach, or the upper portion of the small intestine. They are often painful, particularly after eating, and can bleed into the stomach or intestines.
Ulcers are identified by the location of the sore:
- Esophageal ulcers occur on the lower part of the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach.
- Gastric ulcers form in the stomach lining.
- Duodenal ulcers form in the lining of the small intestine near the stomach called the duodenum.
Esophageal, gastric, and duodenal ulcers are collectively called peptic ulcers or peptic ulcer disease . They are closely related both in causes and treatments. Compared to gastric and duodenal ulcers, esophageal ulcers may arise from different causes and require different treatments in some cases.
Peptic ulcers are due to an erosion of the defenses the stomach or intestinal tissues use to protect themselves against harmful stomach acid. When these defenses are compromised, the acid can eat away at the lining of the stomach or duodenum, causing sores.
Lifestyle factors, such as eating spicy foods or stress, are no longer considered risk factors for developing peptic or esophageal ulcers, but they may worsen ulcer symptoms.
Peptic ulcer disease is very common. Anywhere from 5% to 10% of the population will develop a peptic ulcer at some time during their lives. About 2% to 7% will experience an esophageal ulcer in their lifetime, mostly due to GERD.
What Is The Best Medication For An Ulcer
Ulcers are primarily treated with medications that reduce stomach acid, but other medications such as antacids or pain relievers might be used, as well. However, if theres an underlying infection, that infection will need to be treated with antimicrobial medications as well. There is, then, no best medication for ulcers, only the best combination of medications for a particular situation.
|Best medications for ulcers|
|Analgesic||Oral||325 to 650 mg every four to six hours as needed. Maximum dose of 4,000 mg per day.||Nausea, stomach pain, headache|
The standard dosages above are from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration , the National Institute of Health , or off-label studies for the treatment of peptic ulcers. Dosage is determined by your doctor based on your medical condition, response to treatment, age, and weight. Other possible side effects exist. This is not a complete list.
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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
Anyone can develop mouth ulcers. But you should call your healthcare provider if you have:
- Ulcers that last for three weeks or longer.
- New ulcers that appear before the old ones heal.
- Mouth ulcers that affect the outer part of your lips.
- Pain that doesnt improve with medication.
- Unusually large mouth ulcers.
What Natural Home Remedies Help Peptic Ulcer Pain
Home care for peptic ulcers often centers on neutralizing the stomach acid.
- Don’t smoke, and avoid coffee and alcohol. These habits increase gastric acid production and weaken the mucosal barrier of the GI tract promoting ulcer formation and slowing ulcer healing.
- Don’t take aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Acetaminophen is a good substitute for some conditions. If acetaminophen doesn’t help, talk to your health-care professional about alternatives.
- If your symptoms are mild, try an over-the-counter antacid or nonprescription histamine blocker to neutralize stomach acid. Usually stronger prescription medications are needed.
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Can A Peptic Ulcer Come Back
Yes, a peptic ulcer can come back. If you smoke or take NSAIDs, peptic ulcers are more likely to come back. If you need to take an NSAID, your doctor may switch you to a different medicine or add medicines to help prevent a peptic ulcer. Peptic ulcer disease can return, even if you have been careful to reduce your risk.
How To Diagnose Ulcers
- Urea breath test:
The patient is diagnosed using a urea breath test where a specific drink is given to patient which gets broken down by H.pylori bacteria and the breath is then analyzed to see if he/she has H.pylori infection.
- Stool antigen test/Blood test
A blood test is done to analyze whether it contains antibodies to H.pylori which is nowadays replaced by stool antigen test.
This is done to look inside the stomach directly and detect whether or not it contains an ulcer. The process involves passing an endoscope with a camera at one end into the mouth and the duodenum. A mild sedative may be given before the procedure and an anesthetic may be sprayed onto the throat to make the procedure more comfortable.
The images captured by the camera usually confirm or rule out the ulcer. However, sometimes a small tissue sample may also be needed to be taken and tested for the same. This is usually an outpatient procedure and the patient is usually sent home the same day.
Endoscopy is another procedure to diagnose ulcers. PPIs and H2 receptor antagonists are used to reduce acid levels until the swelling goes down. If an obstruction is caused by scar tissue, it may either need endoscopic balloon inflation.
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Fruits Vegetables Whole Grains And Other Foods High In Fibre Can Prevent Ulcers
Add another star to fibres crown. Besides keeping you regular, fibre has a role in keeping ulcers at bay, especially those in the duodenum. A number of studies have found that people who eat high-fibre diets have a lower risk of developing ulcers. In the Physicians Health Study from Harvard, researchers looked at the diets of 47,806 men and found that those who ate 11 grams or more of fibre from vegetables had a 32 per cent lower risk of developing duodenal ulcers.
Scientists arent sure how fibre helps, but it may be thanks to the fact that it slows the emptying of the stomach and thus reduces the amount of time the stomach lining and duodenum are exposed to digestive acids. Soluble fibre, the kind found in oats, beans, barley, peas, and pears, also forms a slippery goo in the stomach that acts as a barrier between the stomach lining and corrosive stomach acids.
Recommended dose: General health guidelines suggest getting 25 to 35 grams of fibre a day.