ulcers, which are also known as gastric ulcers, are painful sores in the
stomach lining. Stomach ulcers are a type of peptic ulcer disease. Peptic ulcers are any ulcers that affect both
the stomach and small intestines.
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
ulcers are almost always caused by one of the following:
- an infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
- long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
(NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen
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.
common signs and symptoms of ulcers include:
- dull pain in the stomach
- weight loss
- not wanting to eat because of pain
- nausea or vomiting
- feeling easily full
- burping or acid reflux
- heartburn, which is a burning sensation
in the chest)
- pain that may improve when you eat, drink, or take
- anemia, whose symptoms can include tiredness, shortness of
breath, or paler skin
- dark, tarry stools
- vomit that’s bloody or looks like coffee grounds
to your doctor if you have any symptoms of a stomach ulcer. Even though
discomfort may be mild, ulcers can worsen if they aren’t treated. Bleeding
ulcers can become life-threatening.
will vary depending on the cause of your ulcer. Most ulcers can be treated with
a prescription from your doctor, but in rare cases, surgery may be required.
important to promptly treat an ulcer. Talk to your doctor to discuss a
treatment plan. If you have an actively bleeding ulcer, you’ll likely be
hospitalized for intensive treatment with endoscopy and IV ulcer medications.
You may also require a blood
Nonsurgical treatment of stomach ulcer
addition to these treatments, your doctor may also recommend:
- H2 receptor blockers (drugs
that also block acid production)
- stopping use of all NSAIDs
- follow-up endoscopy
- probiotics (useful bacteria that may
have a role in killing off H. pylori)
- bismuth supplement
of an ulcer may subside quickly with treatment. But even if your symptoms disappear,
you should continue to take any medication prescribed by your doctor. This is
especially important with H. pylori infections, to make sure
that all bacteria are eliminated.
effects of medications used to treat stomach ulcers can include:
These side effects are typically temporary. If any of these side effects cause extreme discomfort, talk to your doctor about changing your medication.
very rare cases, a complicated stomach ulcer will require surgery. This may be
the case for ulcers that:
- continue to return
- don’t heal
- tear through the stomach
- keep food from flowing out of the stomach into the
- 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
Prevention of stomach ulcers
To prevent the spread of bacteria that might cause a stomach ulcer, wash your hands with soap and water on a regular basis. Also, be sure to properly clean all of your food and to cook it thoroughly as needed. To prevent ulcers caused by NSAIDs, stop using these medications (if possible) or limit their use. If you need to take NSAIDs, be sure to follow the recommended dosage and avoid alcohol while taking these medications. And always take these medications with food and adequate liquids.