What Causes A Peptic Ulcer
Causes of peptic ulcers include
- long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as aspirin and ibuprofen
- an infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori
- rare cancerous and noncancerous tumors in the stomach, duodenum, or pancreasknown as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
Sometimes peptic ulcers are caused by both NSAIDs and H. pylori.
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Which Foods Should You Eat
The cornerstone of successful management of ulcers is not about avoiding specific foods, says Walters. More important are simple lifestyle changes that include balanced, healthy eating, weight reduction, decreased alcohol consumption and smoking cessation, she says.
These are Walterss top tips for ulcer management:
Could I Have An Ulcer And Not Know It
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Around 25 million people will have a stomach ulcer in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite their prevalence, the symptoms of an ulcer can frequently be mistaken for other conditions, like heartburnand some people may not show any signs at all. Its also unlikely that stress or your diet is the culprit. If youre concerned that your stomach pain could be something more serious, read on to find out the causes, proper treatment and prevention methods for peptic ulcers.
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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.
What Are Stomach Ulcers
There are two kinds of stomach ulcers: gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers. Gastric ulcers are sores on the lining of your stomach. Duodenal ulcers are sores on the upper section of your small intestine.
Your body creates a protective layer of mucus to shield the linings of your stomach and small intestine from the harsh stomach acid required to break down food. When the mucus layer is worn away or doesnt function properly, the acid begins to damage the lining of the stomach or small intestine, creating an ulcer. Many people believe spicy foods or stress cause ulcers, but while these can exacerbate existing ulcers, they dont actually cause them.
Ulcers are usually caused by an infection from a common bacteria called helicobacter pylori or from the habitual use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin. Other factors, such as being older than age 50, smoking, genetics, steroid use, and frequent alcohol use, can increase your risk of developing an ulcer.
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What Natural Home Remedies Help Peptic Ulcer Pain
Home care for peptic ulcers often centers on neutralizing the stomach acid.
- Dont 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.
- Dont take aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Acetaminophen is a good substitute for some conditions. If acetaminophen doesnt 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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What Treatments Can Relieve Ulcer Pain
While over-the-counter medications can treat an upset stomach, they are generally not effective in treating ulcers. And taking over-the-counter painkillers could worsen the problem. That is why its better to see a doctor, who may combine several medications and therapies to relieve pain, cure the infection, and prevent it from worsening. Medications usually include:
Your doctor may also recommend making lifestyle modifications, including:
- Avoiding spicy and oily food
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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 âulcerâ 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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Can Peptic Ulcers Be Prevented
Doctors arent sure how H. pylori bacteria spread from person to person. The bacteria have been found in saliva , so kissing may be one way. They also may spread through food, water, or contact with vomit thats infected with the bacteria.
Regular use of NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal problems and bleeding in some people. Acetaminophen does not cause stomach ulcers and is a good alternative to NSAIDs.
As with many infections, washing your hands well and often is an important part of ulcer prevention. This is extra important after you use the bathroom and before you eat. And take good care of your body by exercising regularly and not smoking or drinking.
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Do I Have An Ulcer Or Gastritis
There are also many differences between the two conditions. Both conditions cause inflammation in the stomach lining, butgastritis is general inflammation while an ulcer is a patch of inflamed stomach lining. Ulcers cause more severe, localized pain with the risk of cancer, bleeding, and stomach perforation.
What Tests Diagnose A Peptic Ulcer
To confirm a person has an ulcer a diagnostic imaging test will usually be ordered. The two most widely used tests are:
- Upper GI series : This is a type of X-ray. The patient is given a chalky liquid to drink that increases the contrast on the X-ray, making certain features easier to see. Because this liquid contains barium, this test is sometimes called a barium swallow.
- Endoscopy : An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera at the end. The patient is given a mild sedative, and then the tube is passed through the mouth into the stomach. The doctor can see the lining of the stomach to diagnose a peptic ulcer. Tiny samples of the tissue will be taken , which are examined under a microscope.
If a diagnostic imaging test reveals an ulcer, the patient will most likely have a test to see if H pylori bacteria are present.
- It is important to be certain about this, because treatment of the H pylori is likely to heal the ulcer.
- Ulcers caused by H pylori are treated differently than ulcers caused by medications.
Three types of tests are available to detect H pylori.
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You Have Heartburn At Most Meals
If you find yourself experiencing frequent heartburn, regardless of what you eat, an ulcer may be responsible. Many patients with ulcers describe feeling very intense chest pain, which often causes them to burp or hiccup more than usual after eating. In many cases, a simple over-the-counter antacid can be taken to temporarily alleviate some of the pain and gassiness, but if it persists day after day, its likely something more than a regular case of heartburn.
How Can I Tell If I Have A Peptic Ulcer
You may feel bloated or full. Pain may start soon after you eat. Three to four hours after eating a meal, you may get pain or an empty feeling in your stomach that gets better after you eat again or take an over-the-counter antacid .
Other signs include belching, feeling sick or dizzy, vomiting, heartburn, and a bad taste in your throat. Some people have black stools from bleeding in the stomach or intestine.
Your doctor may give you a blood or stool test to see if you have anemia or HP infection. You may need an x-ray or an endoscopy .
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H Pylori Infection Treatment
Patients infected with H. pylori will usually need PPIs and antibiotics. This treatment is effective in most patients, and the ulcer will start to disappear within days. When treatment is over, the individual will have to be tested again to make sure the H. pylori have gone. If necessary, they will undergo another course of different antibiotics.
How Common Are Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers are very common in Western countries. In the United States, there are about 4 million cases per year. Some estimates say that 1 in 10 people will have one at some point in their lives. Thats because many of the causes that contribute to stomach ulcers are common in Western life. Fortunately, these causes are usually easy to trace and to reverse, giving ulcers a chance to heal and your stomach lining a chance to repair.
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How Long Do Stomach Ulcers Take To Heal
Gastric ulcers that arent complicated can take up to two or three months to heal fully. It takes about six weeks for duodenal ulcers to heal. Without antibiotics, an ulcer can heal temporarily. However, if the bacteria are not destroyed, it is normal for an ulcer to recur or for another ulcer to form nearby.
Are Peptic Ulcers Painful
The pain of ulcer disease correlates poorly with the presence or severity of active ulceration. Some individuals have persistent pain even after an ulcer is almost completely healed by medication. Others experience no pain at all. Ulcers often come and go spontaneously without the individual ever knowing that they are present unless a serious complication occurs.
Symptoms and signs of peptic ulcers disease vary. Some people with stomach ulcers do not have any symptoms or signs while others may have a few or several.
The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is a dull or burning pain in the stomach. The pain may be felt anywhere between your belly button and breastbone. Pain from a peptic or stomach ulcer:
- usually happens when your stomach is empty, for example, such as between meals or during the night
- may stop briefly if you eat or take antacids
- may last for minutes to hours or
- may come and go for several days, weeks, or months.
Peptic ulcer other symptoms and signs that are less common include:
Cigarette smoking not only causes ulcers, but it also increases the risk of complications from ulcers such as bleeding, obstruction, and perforation. Cigarette smoking also is a leading cause of failure of treatment for ulcers.
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol, coffee, colas, spicy foods, and caffeine have no proven role in ulcer formation. Similarly, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that life stresses or personality types contribute to ulcer disease.
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How Are Stomach Ulcers Treated
Ulcers can heal if they are given a rest from the factors that created them. Healthcare providers treat uncomplicated ulcers with a combination of medicines to reduce stomach acid, coat and protect the ulcer during healing and kill any bacterial infection that may be involved. Medicines may include:
- Antibiotics. If H. pylori was found in your digestive tract, your healthcare provider will prescribe some combination of antibiotics to kill the bacteria, based on your medical history and condition. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include tetracycline, metronidazole, clarithromycin and amoxicillin.
- Proton pump inhibitors . These drugs help reduce stomach acid and protect your stomach lining. PPIs include esomeprazole,dexlansoprazole,lansoprazole, omeprazole,pantoprazole and rabeprazole.
- Histamine receptor blockers . These reduce stomach acid by blocking the chemical that tells your body to produce it . H2 blockers include famotidine, cimetidine and nizatidine.
- Antacids. These common over-the-counter medicines help to neutralize stomach acid. They may bring some symptom relief, but they arent enough to heal your ulcer. They also might interfere with some antibiotics.
- Cytoprotective agents. These medicines help to coat and protect your stomach lining. They include sucralfate and misoprostol.
- Bismuth Subsalicylate. This over-the-counter medicine, commonly found as Pepto-Bismol, can help coat and protect your ulcer from stomach acid.
What Should I Watch For While Using This Medication
It can take several days before your stomach pain gets better. Check with your care team if your condition does not start to get better, or if it gets worse.
Do not treat diarrhea with over the counter products. Contact your care team if you have diarrhea that lasts more than 2 days or if it is severe and watery.
You may need blood work done while you are taking this medication.
Using this medication for a long time may weaken your bones. The risk of bone fractures may be increased. Talk to your care team about your bone health.
Using this medication for a long time may cause growths in the stomach. They usually don’t cause any symptoms. They are usually not cancerous. Contact your care team if you notice pain or tenderness when you press your stomach, have nausea, or see bloody or black, tar-like stools.
This medication may cause a decrease in vitamin B12. You should make sure that you get enough vitamin B12 while you are taking this medication. Discuss the foods you eat and the vitamins you take with your care team.
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Black Or Dark Colored Stool
If you think you may have an ulcer, a good way to tell is to look at your stool. If you notice that when you use the restroom your stool is extremely dark in color, or even black, chances are you are right about what is ailing you. If this is the case, you should absolutely go to the hospital immediately.
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How Do You Stop A Stomach Ulcer From Hurting
Home remedies and a healthy lifestyle
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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.
Medications: Certain drugs, including aspirin, ibuprofen, bisphosphonates, and some antibiotics, can cause esophagitis, or inflammation of the esophagus, and esophageal ulcers.
Infection: Ulcers caused by infection are less common, but the fungal infection known as candida, herpes, and the human papillomavirus have all been linked to esophageal ulcers.
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.
Other Causes And Factors
Other causes are rare. For example, some viral infections can cause a stomach ulcer. Crohns disease may cause a stomach ulcer in addition to other problems of the gut.
Stomach cancer may at first look similar to an ulcer. Stomach cancer is uncommon but may need to be ruled out if you are found to have a stomach ulcer.
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