What Causes Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers occur when the layer protecting the stomach lining from stomach acid breaks down. This allows the stomach lining to become damaged.
This is usually caused by:
- an infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria
- taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen or aspirin particularly if they’re taken for a long time or at high doses
There’s little evidence that stress or certain foods causes stomach ulcers.
More about the causes of stomach ulcers
What Are Venous Ulcers
A venous skin ulcer is a sore on the leg that heals slowly, usually because of blood flow problems in the leg veins. When leg veins do not push blood back up to the heart as they should, the blood backs up , creating extra pressure in the veins. If the condition is not treated, the increased pressure and excess fluid in the affected area can cause an open sore to form.
Because of the continuous pressure, venous ulcers can linger anywhere from a few weeks to years and lead to more serious problems if untreated. Most venous ulcers occur on the lower leg, above the ankle.
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How Are Stomach Ulcers Diagnosed
Diagnosis and treatment will depend on your symptoms and the severity of your ulcer. To diagnose a stomach ulcer, your doctor will review your medical history along with your symptoms and any prescription or over-the-counter medications youre taking.
To rule out H. pylori infection, a blood, stool, or breath test may be ordered. With a breath test, youll be instructed to drink a clear liquid and breathe into a bag, which is then sealed. If H. pylori is present, the breath sample will contain higher-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide.
Other tests and procedures used to diagnose stomach ulcers include:
- Barium swallow: You drink a thick white liquid that coats your upper gastrointestinal tract and helps your doctor see your stomach and small intestine on X-rays.
- Endoscopy : A thin, lighted tube is inserted through your mouth and into the stomach and the first part of the small intestine. This test is used to look for ulcers, bleeding, and any tissue that looks abnormal.
- Endoscopic biopsy: A piece of stomach tissue is removed so it can be analyzed in a lab.
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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.
In the past it was thought that ulcers were caused by lifestyle factors such as eating habits, cigarettesmoking, and stress.
- 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 To Eat If You Have A Stomach Ulcer
Since H. pylori bacteria is now known to be an important cause of ulcer formation, scientists are exploring what foods may have a role in fighting against an infection.
In addition to taking the antibiotics and acid-blocking medications recommended by your doctor for your ulcer treatment, eating these foods may also be helpful against the ulcer-causing bacteria:
for ulcer treatment. These foods, such as miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi, may prevent reinfection.
Turmeric is currently being studied as a potential treatment for ulcers as well.
Garlic, decaffeinated green tea, and licorice round out the list of things you might want to incorporate in your diet.
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Drugs And Radiation Therapy
The most common drugs causing mouth sores include certain cancer chemotherapy drugs. Drugs containing gold, which were once used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and some other autoimmune disorders, can also cause mouth sores, but these drugs are rarely used because safer and more effective drugs are now available. Radiation therapy is also a common cause of mouth sores. Rarely, people may develop mouth sores after taking antibiotics.
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Symptoms Of Stomach Ulcers
A number of symptoms are associated with stomach ulcers. The severity of the symptoms depends on the severity of the ulcer.
The most common symptom is a burning sensation or pain in the middle of your abdomen between your chest and belly button. Typically, the pain will be more intense when your stomach is empty, and it can last for a few minutes to several hours.
Other common signs and symptoms of ulcers include:
- dull pain in the stomach
- heartburn, which is a burning sensation in the chest)
- pain that may improve when you eat, drink, or take antacids
- anemia, whose symptoms can include tiredness, shortness of breath, or paler skin
- dark, tarry stools
- vomit thats bloody or looks like coffee grounds
Talk to your doctor if you have any symptoms of a stomach ulcer. Even though discomfort may be mild, ulcers can worsen if they arent treated. Bleeding ulcers can become life-threatening.
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Supplements May Be Beneficial
If your stomach ulcer is being treated with an antibiotic, consider taking a probiotic supplement as part of your diet plan. This can help reduce antibiotic-associated symptoms. It may also improve the effectiveness of the antibiotic.
Ask your doctor what probiotic would be best to take with your antibiotic medication. Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces supplements have shown benefits in people with H. pylori ulcers.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice and curcumin extracts have shown promise in some ulcer research due to their action against H. pylori.
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.
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How Can I Prevent Ulcers
You may be able to prevent ulcers from forming if you:
- Talk to your doctor about alternatives to NSAID medications to relieve pain.
- Discuss protective measures with your doctor, if you cant stop taking an NSAID.
- Opt for the lowest effective dose of NSAID and take it with a meal.
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What Is Peptic Ulcer Disease
Peptic ulcer disease is a condition in which painful sores or ulcers develop in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine . Normally, a thick layer of mucus protects the stomach lining from the effect of its digestive juices. But many things can reduce this protective layer, allowing stomach acid to damage the tissue.
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Duration Of Peptic Ulcers
Ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori heal when the bacteria is killed. The typical course of treatment includes two weeks of antibiotics along with acid-suppressing medicine. This is followed by an additional four to eight weeks of the acid-suppressing medicine alone.
Its possible for an ulcer to heal temporarily without antibiotics, but it will likely recur or another one will form nearby if the bacteria is not killed.
Peptic ulcers caused by medication usually heal shortly after you stop taking the medication. Doctors typically recommend taking antacids for two to six weeks to assist with healing and relieve pain.
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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.
Home Remedies For Peptic Ulcer Honey
Raw honey is very helpful in treating peptic ulcers. Plus, honey reduces and soothes the inflammation of the stomach lining. For best results, you can take raw honey daily in the morning on your empty stomach. It will help treat and prevent stomach ulcers, cleanse the bowel and boost the stomach lining. There are a lot of other natural home remedies for peptic ulcer presented in this article, so keep reading it to learn more!
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What Is A Stomach Ulcer
Stomach ulcers are open, inflamed sores in the lining of the stomach. They are also known as gastric ulcers or peptic ulcers. Ulcers can also occur in the upper part of the small intestine these are known as duodenal ulcers.
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience:
- a sudden, sharp or persistent pain in the belly
- bloody or black poo
- vomit that looks like coffee grounds with red blood in it
- being weak, light-headed, sweaty and clammy
Symptoms And Causes Of Ulcers
The primary symptom of ulcers and peptic ulcer disease is pain. A painful, burning sensation can be felt throughout the top of the sternum, seeping all the way to the navel. The time frame for the pain can fluctuateit could last for as little as a few minutes or for as long as several hours.
Most ulcers are caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori , a gastrointestinal infection that can cause both peptic ulcers and stomach cancer. H. pylori affects about 20% of people younger than 30 years old and 50% of people over the age of 60.Researchers are unsure how H. pylori can spread from one person to the other, but they do believe that it can be transmitted through food, water, and close contact with others. A 2003 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggests that H. pylori is more likely to be found in individuals with low blood levels of vitamin C. Study researchers recommended increased vitamin C consumption.Aside from H. pylori, other causes of ulcers include excess digestive acids that will damage the lining of the digestive tract, long-term and constant use of anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as unmanaged stress. Stress causes a change in the immune system, blood flow, and acid secretionthese changes can aggravate ulcer symptoms and impede on the healing process.
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What Caregivers Can Do
- Use a flashlight to check the patients mouth for red areas or white patches, which often become sores. If the patient wears dentures, remove them before looking.
- Offer liquids with a straw, which may help bypass the sores in the mouth.
- Offer soft foods. Mash or puree foods in a blender to make them easier to eat.
- Try coating mouth sores with Anbesol® or Orajel® before meals to numb them during eating, if OK with the cancer care team.
- Offer pain medicines 30 minutes before mealtime.
Your Appetite Went Mia
For many patients with ulcers, the condition can actually result in a loss of appetite. This drop in food intake, combined with occasional vomiting, may lead to unexpected weight loss. Some ulcer patients report eating their normal amount of food, yet still lose weight, so the ulcer itself may cause a drop on the scale, too.
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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.
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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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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.
How Can I Look After Myself If I Have A Peptic Ulcer
As well as seeking help from a healthcare professional, there are things you can do to care for yourself:
- Eat a well-balanced diet and have regular meals.
- Eat smaller meals and eat your evening meal 34 hours before going to bed.
- Identify and avoid food and drinks that make the pain worse
- Antacids can offer short term relief and may help protect the lining of the stomach. You can buy antacids from your local pharmacy.
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