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Stomach Ulcers- Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What are Stomach Ulcers?

Stomach Ulcers or Gastric Ulcers as they may be interchangeably called are painful sores that develop in the stomach lining. Stomach Ulcers fall under the broad criteria of peptic ulcers. Peptic Ulcers include stomach ulcers and the ulcers on small intestine.

Stomach ulcers occur when the thick layer of mucus that protects your stomach from digestive juices is reduced. This allows the digestive acids to eat away at the tissues that line the stomach, causing an ulcer.

Causes of Stomach Ulcers:

1. Uses of Certain Drugs:

The most common causes are bacteria and use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirins, ibuprofen or naproxen.

2. Infection:

If you contract an infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), you may suffer stomach ulcer.

3. Zollinger- Ellison Syndrome:

In rare conditions, a syndrome called Zollinger Ellison Syndrome can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers. In this symptom the body may produce extra acid that may be damaging to stomach and intestine.

10 Symptoms of Stomach Ulcers:

A number of symptoms are associated with stomach ulcers. The severity of stomach ulcers decides the symptoms of the Ulcers.

1. Stomach Ache 

You will experience stomach aches. This pain is bearable in the beginning. It increases if the ulcer begins to progress.

2. Weight Loss:

The person suffering from stomach ulcers has difficulty in eating food. Eating may cause stomach ache. A person who is not able to eat is naturally going to lose weight.

3. Bloating:

Bloating is a constant feeling of being full and heavy in our stomach. One experiences pain and heaviness in stomach and is unable to eat. Your abdomen may begin to feel tight, full, hard, and also painful. If your’re experiencing all or any of these feelings, yes it’s bloating. Bloating is caused due to gas that fills up the gastrointestinal tract.

4. Burping or Acid Reflux:

Constant signs of burping or acid reflux can indicate Stomach Ulcers. Acidity includes burning sensation felt in the chest and esophagus.

5. Heartburn 

Ever felt that troublesome feeling after having eaten loads of your favourite dish where you regret having over eaten it only after that burning sensation strikes down your food pipe? Yes that regret is what we call as heartburn. It is caused due to acid reflux. Some of the contents of the stomach are forced back to the oesophagus and creates a burning pain in the lower chest.

6. Dark Stools 

The colour of your stools will become extremely dark brown. You may also notice light blood discharges from your stools. The main reason for this could be fissures caused due to indigestion. You must keep a careful watch over the colour and consistency of your stools.

7. Pain that can be relieved on taking Aerated water or Antacids:

If you have constant stomach ache which is relieved when you take an antacid or consume aerated drink like soda, then you must get yourself checked for ulcer. These signs indicate acidity which also indicate chances of having stomach ulcer.

8. Vomiting and Nausea:

Most people experience severe headache due to acid reflux. This headache subsides once a person vomits. The person also experiences constant urge to puke which is termed as nausea. All this coupled with other symptoms point a finger at Stomach Ulcer.

9. Anemia:

Due to extreme pain and acidity, the person may feel averse from eating food. This may lead to iron deficiency anemia. Other symptoms related to anemia like fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin, etc may also be notice.

10. Indigestion:

Your food that you consume may not be digested well inside your digestive system due to development of stomach ulcer. As a result you may experience problems like constipation and other stomach related complications like bloating and Heartburn.

Diagnosis of Stomach Ulcer:

The doctor usually asks you about your medical history, past diseases, medications taken to ward off the diseases and all the corresponding tests conducted. To check for chances of an infection, the doctor may want to examine your blood, stools and also ask you to take a breath test. Apart from these tests, the doctor may suggest the following tests for further inspection:

1. Barium Swallow:

You are made to drink a thick white liquid (barium) that coats your upper gastrointestinal tract and helps your doctor see your stomach and small intestine on X-rays.

2. Endoscopy (EGD):

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.

3. Endoscopic Biopsy:

A piece of stomach tissue is removed for detection in a lab. Any kind of abnormality that may exist is thus detected.

Treatment for Stomach Ulcer:

Treatment for Stomach Ulcer includes both surgical and Non-Surgical ways. Which one is to be opted for is at the discretion of the Doctor based on severity of the problem.

1. Non-Surgical Treatment:

  • If the cause of your ulcer has been detected to be the H. pylori infection, you will be given medicinal drugs to treat this infection.
  • You may be given medicines that control and block acid production in your stomach.
  • You may be asked to discontinue any types of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with immediate effect.
  • The doctor may suggest you diet which is rich in probiotics. Probiotics are the good germs in your gut that enable healthy digestion.

These medications may make you feel a little dizzy and induce problems like diarrhea and headache too. Let your doctor know about the slightest of change these medicines bring to your system.

2. Surgical Treatment:

In very rare cases, a complicated stomach ulcer will require surgery. This may be the case in the following situations:

  • Ulcers continue to keep reappearing.
  • The ulcers don’t heal inspite of medications.
  • Bleeding
  • Tear through the Stomach
  • keep food from flowing out of the stomach into the small intestine

Surgical Methods include:

  • Removal of the entire ulcer
  • taking tissue from another part of the intestines and patching it over the ulcer site
  • tying off a bleeding artery
  • Cutting off the nerve supply to the stomach to reduce the production of stomach acid.

Healthy Diet for Stomach Ulcer:

The doctor will suggest you to eat a lighter diet. You may be asked to minus the oil from your food. Also avoid spicy food. You may be suggested food rich in fiber and probiotics.

Prevention of Stomach Ulcers:

You can prevent any kind of disorder if you efficiently dodge the causes. Clean your hands well before eating or after returning from outside to avoid being infected with the bacteria that causes ulcer.

You must also avoid using medications that cause Stomach Ulcers at the earliest. While you are taking medications for stomach ulcers, you must avoid taking alcoholic beverages and also drink more water to clear off the side effects of the medications.

If you have been diagnosed with Stomach Ulcer, following a strict diet and also taking your medications on time is extremely essential. You must strictly follow what your doctor advises. It is extremely vital that you contact your doctor as soon as you notice any of the signs and symptoms and get the necessary diagnosis to be made in time. If the situation aggravates, you may have to face more severe consequences.

 

Shabnam Vandeliwala

Venturing into writing is my second most admired hobby after litigating in courts. An advocate by profession, writing gives me immense sense of satisfaction especially in the time that I'm free from other work.

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