How Are Ulcers Diagnosed
To diagnose a peptic ulcer, doctors do an exam, ask about symptoms, and take a medical history. If you have stomach pain or other symptoms of an ulcer, the doctor will do some tests.
One test is called an upper gastrointestinal series. These are X-rays of the stomach, duodenum, and esophagus, the muscular tube that links the mouth to the stomach. A person drinks a liquid called barium while getting an X-ray. If theres an ulcer, it should show up on the X-ray.
Another common test to look for an ulcer is an endoscopy . A person is sedated for this procedure. Then, the doctor puts an endoscope a small, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end down the throat and into the stomach and duodenum. The doctors can see the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum to check for possible ulcers.
A doctor also can do a blood test that looks for H. pylori bacteria. This may be important if the upper GI series showed an ulcer. The blood test can be done right in the doctors office. Sometimes doctors test a poop sample or a persons breath to check for the H. pylori bacteria.
Signs You May Have A Peptic Ulcer
Peptic ulcers, or stomach ulcers, are breaks or holes in the lining of the stomach. An ulcer in the first part of the intestines is known as a duodenal ulcer. An ulcer in the stomach is known as a gastric ulcer. If you think you may have an ulcer, you should see a gastroenterologist. Gastroenterologists are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of peptic ulcers. Here are 5 signs you may have a peptic ulcer. 1. Burning pain- The most common peptic ulcer symptom is a burning sensation or gnawing pain in the middle of your abdomen. The pain may come and go for several days or weeks. Even though discomfort may be mild, peptic ulcers can worsen if they arent treated. Taking antacids can relieve the discomfort, but it will keep coming back until the peptic ulcer is treated by a doctor.
2. Nausea- The symptoms of peptic ulcers may include nausea. Nausea is a feeling of sickness with an inclination to vomit. Nausea has many possible causes. Some common causes of nausea include appendicitis, infection, reactions to some medicines, migraines, food poisoning or intestinal blockage.
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How Do Tumors From Zes Cause Peptic Ulcers
Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a rare disorder that happens when one or more tumors form in your pancreas and duodenum. The tumors release large amounts of gastrin, a hormone that causes your stomach to produce large amounts of acid. The extra acid causes peptic ulcers to form in your duodenum and in the upper intestine.
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What Kind Of Doctor Treats Peptic Ulcers
- If you suspect you may have a peptic ulcer, you may first be diagnosed by your family practitioner or internist.
- Children or teenagers may see a pediatrician.
- For further treatment you will likely be referred to a gastroenterologist, a specialist in disorders of the digestive tract.
- If you have an emergency such as vomiting or severe abdominal pain you will be seen by an emergency medicine specialist in an emergency room.
- In the rare case where surgery is needed, you may see a general surgeon.
Peptic Ulcers Are Often Symptomless
About 30 percent of 60 year olds with confirmed peptic ulcer disease have no abdominal pain.24 This means 1 in 3 old people without the slightest hint of the major symptom of peptic ulcers actually have them.
As if it was not already challenging to diagnose what cannot be seen, sometimes individuals suffering from peptic ulcers do not experience any symptoms.
Older people and children are, unfortunately, at a higher risk of belonging to this no-symptoms niche. This increases the likelihood of a delayed diagnosis and grave complications like perforation and internal bleeding.
Another group of individuals who may struggle with identifying peptic ulcers are those who are heavily dependent on NSAIDs. Even though abdominal pain is the most prominent indicator of peptic ulcers, such is not always the case. To our dismay, 1 in 3 people with peptic ulcers dont have any abdominal pain, particularly those popping NSAIDs.252627 This resonates with research findings that NSAIDs mask the symptoms of peptic ulcers.28 It is, thus, advisable to exercise caution if you need to regularly take these painkillers to treat other conditions.
Having no symptoms or weak symptoms, hence, does not rule out the possibility of peptic ulcers.
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How Can You Tell If You Have An Ulcer Without Endoscopy
How Are Esophageal Ulcers Caused
The main causes of esophageal ulcers are:
Exposure to stomach acid: This causes chronic inflammation and irritation of the esophagus, allowing ulcers to develop. Stomach acid exposure most often occurs in people with other gastrointestinal conditions. These can include hiatal hernias and GERD, or gastrointestinal reflux disease, more commonly referred to, as severe heartburn.
Caustic injury: Esophageal ulcers may be caused by ingesting a corrosive substance. This type of injury mostly affects children, but it can also occur in adults who experience psychosis, suicidal tendencies, or who are abusing alcohol.
Certain types of gastric surgery or foreign bodies can also cause esophageal ulcers.
Early intervention is key to preventing complications from esophageal ulcers.
In cases of acid reflux, treatment may include:
- Medication, such as antacids, H-2-receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors .
- Dietary and lifestyle changes, to aid digestion.
- Surgery, for severe cases. Types of surgeries include to tighten the LES valve near the top of the stomach or to insert a magnetic device to help the LES valve function.
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How To Treat Stomach Ulcers
It is important to get treatment for a stomach ulcer because they can worsen if ignored. Peptic ulcers can lead to internal bleeding, a perforation in your stomach, an obstruction in your digestive tract, or even stomach cancer.
If you experience sharp, sudden stomach pain that doesnt go away trouble breathing unexplained weight loss bloody, dark, or tarry stools or are vomiting blood or what looks like coffee grounds, you should see a doctor immediately. Any of these symptoms could indicate that the ulcer has caused a more serious problem.
A gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Centers can help diagnose and treat peptic ulcers. They can use endoscopic equipment to confirm a diagnosis of peptic ulcers and to determine your best course of treatment. While performing an upper endoscopy, your physician can see irregularities in the lining of your stomach and even take samples to test for H. pylori infection.
Heliobacter pylori can be successfully treated with antibiotics, and an acid reducer may also be prescribed to allow the ulcers to heal. Acetaminophen is a pain reliever that can be used in place of NSAIDs if your ulcers are caused by an overuse of pain relievers.
If you choose to seek treatment at Digestive Health Centers, a board certified, fellowship-trained gastroenterologist can help you repair your stomach and ease the pain caused by ulcers. Contact us today to begin your recovery!
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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:
You can do some things to make an infection less likely:
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What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose A Peptic Ulcer
Endoscopy. An upper endoscopy exam is expedient because allows healthcare providers to see inside your digestive tract and also take a tissue sample to analyze in the lab. The test is done by passing a thin tube with a tiny camera attached down your throat and into your stomach and duodenum. Youll have medication to numb your throat and help you relax during the test. Your healthcare provider may use the endoscope to take a tissue sample to test for signs of mucous damage, anemia, H. pylori infection or malignancy. If they take a sample, you wont feel it.
Imaging tests. Imaging tests to look inside the stomach and small intestine include:
- Upper GI series. An upper GI X-ray exam examines the stomach and duodenum through X-rays. Its less invasive than an endoscopy. For the X-ray, youll swallow a chalky fluid called barium, which will coat your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The barium helps your digestive organs show up better in black and white images.
- CT scan. Your healthcare provider might recommend a CT scan if they need to see your organs in more detail. A CT scan can show complications such as a perforation in the stomach or intestinal wall. For the test, youll lie on a table inside a scanner machine while X-rays are taken. You may drink or have an injection with contrast fluid to make your organs show up better in images.
Tests for H. pylori. Your healthcare provider might want to test you separately for H. pylori infection. Tests may include:
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.
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What Is The Difference Between Peptic Ulcer And Stomach Ulcer
A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of your stomach, small intestine or esophagus. A peptic ulcer in the stomach is called a gastric ulcer. A duodenal ulcer is a peptic ulcer that develops in the first part of the small intestine . An esophageal ulcer occurs in the lower part of your esophagus.
Accordingly, what is the difference between peptic ulcer and gastric ulcer?
A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of your stomach or the first part of your small intestine . If the ulcer is in your stomach, it is called a gastric ulcer. If the ulcer is in your duodenum, it is called a duodenal ulcer.
Also Know, what does peptic ulcer feel like? The most common symptom of peptic ulcers is abdominal pain. Stomach ulcer pain: Usually in the upper middle part of the abdomen, above the belly button and below the breastbone. Can feel like burning, or gnawing, and it may go through to the back.
Hereof, what are the first signs of a stomach ulcer?
Other common signs and symptoms of ulcers include:
- dull pain in the stomach.
- weight loss.
- not wanting to eat because of pain.
- nausea or vomiting.
- heartburn, which is a burning sensation in the chest)
What causes a gastric ulcer?
Stomach ulcer causesStomach ulcers are usually caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . These can break down the stomachâs defence against the acid it produces to digest food. The stomach lining then becomes damaged causing an ulcer to form.
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What Conditions Need Surgery To Treat Rectal Ulcers
Rectal prolapse is a condition where part of the rectum protrudes from the anus. If rectal prolapse is causing your rectal ulcers, you may need a surgical procedure called a rectopexy to repair your rectum. This procedure can be done laparoscopically or robotically.
After making a few small incisions near your belly button, doctors insert a laparoscope into your abdomen. Your doctor uses tiny tools to move your rectum into the proper position.
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How Are Peptic Ulcers Treated
Treatment will depend on the type of ulcer you have. Your healthcare provider will create a care plan for you based on what is causing your ulcer.
Treatment can include making lifestyle changes, taking medicines, or in some cases having surgery.
Lifestyle changes may include:
- Not eating certain foods. Avoid any foods that make your symptoms worse.
- Quitting smoking. Smoking can keep your ulcer from healing. It is also linked to ulcers coming back after treatment.
- Limiting alcohol and caffeine. They can make your symptoms worse.
- Not using NSAIDs . These include aspirin and ibuprofen.
Medicines to treat ulcers may include:
- Antibiotics. These bacteria-fighting medicines are used to kill the H. pylori bacteria. Often a mix of antibiotics and other medicines is used to cure the ulcer and get rid of the infection.
- H2-blockers . These reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes by blocking the hormone histamine. Histamine helps to make acid.
- Proton pump inhibitors or PPIs. These lower stomach acid levels and protect the lining of your stomach and duodenum.
- Mucosal protective agents. These medicines protect the stomachs mucus lining from acid damage so that it can heal.
- Antacids. These quickly weaken or neutralize stomach acid to ease your symptoms.
In most cases, medicines can heal ulcers quickly. Once the H. pylori bacteria is removed, most ulcers do not come back.
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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.
Risk Factors For Peptic Ulcers
Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, are a risk factor. Acidic foods and alcohol use change the stomach lining and can make it more susceptible to Helicobacter pylori infection, a known cause of stomach ulcers. Overuse of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, and a genetic predisposition also may lead to peptic ulcers.
Other common symptoms of a peptic ulcer include:
- Discomfort, bloating
These symptoms are rare, but are more severe and could point to a complication:
- Blood in the stool black and tarry stool
- Fatigue or weakness, which can result from malnutrition or anemia due to small amounts of bleeding from the ulcer
- Unexplained weight loss
Symptoms of peptic ulcers can occur as a result of other conditions, including gastroesophageal reflux disease , chronic dyspepsia, gallbladder disease, liver disease, or a gastrointestinal infection. It’s important to see your healthcare provider to determine what’s at the root of your pain.
What Are Peptic Ulcers
A peptic ulcer is a sore in the wall of the gastrointestinal tract caused by stomach acid. Peptic ulcers typically result from inflammation caused by infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori or medicines, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
Peptic ulcers can form in the stomach or the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.
The stomach produces acid, but its walls are typically coated with a layer of mucus that protects them from erosion. However, those medicines or an H. pylori infection can impair the mucus barrier of protection in the stomach, Dr. Yalamanchili says. This can eventually lead to a sore developing in the lining of the stomach or duodenum. Its not uncommon for gastric and duodenal ulcers to occur at the same time.
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