Are you experiencing stomach pain, nausea, and a loss of appetite without any known explanation? Those are three common signs of a stomach ulcer. These painful sores can be a great nuisance and disrupt your life if they aren’t taken care of properly.
The good news is that treatment for stomach ulcers can eliminate the problem and help you get rid of the pain. Non-surgical treatment usually works in most cases and the patient is able to go on with their lives without the severe pain and burning.
Serious cases of stomach ulcers often involve surgical treatment, and the ulcers can also come back again over time, especially if the person fails to follow their doctor’s orders.
If you are wondering about the symptoms of a stomach ulcer, and what may cause one to occur, read on for more information on these common gastrointestinal issues.
What Exactly Is A Stomach Ulcer?
A stomach also is also commonly referred to as a gastric ulcer. They are sores located in the lining of the stomach that can cause pain. Any type of stomach ulcer can be classified as Peptic Ulcer Disease. A peptic ulcer is any ulcer that causes pain or irritation to the stomach or the small intestines.
Stomach ulcers can show up any time the layer of mucus that provides protection to your stomach is reduced. When that occurs, the digestive juices and acids start to destroy the protective tissues that line our stomachs. This leads to a sore, or ulcer.
If caught in time, a stomach ulcer can be treated and cured. However, they can become very severe and painful if they exist for a long time without treatment.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Stomach Ulcer?
There are several symptoms that can let you know you may have a stomach ulcer. The severity of your ulcer will depend on how severe your symptoms are.
One of the most common signs of a stomach ulcer is a burning sensation in your abdomen accompanied by severe pain. The burning and pain is located in the middle of the abdomen in between the chest and your belly button. Usually, the pain is more severe when you haven’t eaten, and your stomach is empty. The pain has an average duration of a few minutes up to a few hours.
Other symptoms to look out for when you suspect you have a stomach ulcer include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite due to pain
- A dull pain in your stomach
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain that improves after you eat, drink something or take an antacid
- Dark or tarry stools
- Acid reflux or frequent burping
- Feeling full easily
- Frequent heartburn
- Vomit that has the appearance of coffee grounds
What Are The Top Causes For A Stomach Ulcer?
Stomach Ulcers are often caused by one of these two issues:
- An infection caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
- The long-term use of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs). This can include ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen.
Although it is rare, there is a third cause for stomach ulcers, a condition known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. This condition causes ulcers in the stomach and intestines because it increases the amount acid in the body. This syndrome is believed to cause less than 1% of all stomach ulcers.
What Can You Do To Prevent A Stomach Ulcer?
To prevent a stomach ulcer, there are a few things you can do. You should always wash your hands using soap and warm water regularly. Always clean your food well, and cook it thoroughly to avoid a bacterial infection.
To prevent a stomach ulcer that could be caused by NSAIDs, you should stop using this type of medication for pain relief, or at least limit your use of them. Always follow the instructions for taking this type of medicine and only take the dosage that is recommended.
You can also take alternatives to NSAIDs for pain, such as acetaminophen. However, if there is any reason why you shouldn’t take this type of pain medication, you will need to consult with your doctor for their recommendation on what type of pain reliever you should use.
What Are The Best Treatment Options For Stomach Ulcers?
Successful treatment for stomach ulcers depends on what caused your ulcers in the first place. Usually an ulcer can be treated with prescription medication. However, in some rare cases, your doctor may suggest surgery.
Treatment for an ulcer should be carried out quickly as they will only get worse over time.
You and your doctor should discuss the treatment plan together and decide which option is best for you. Your doctor may suggest trying prescription medication for a while to see if it helps eliminate the problem before suggesting surgery.
You should always follow your doctors’ orders when it comes to treating an ulcer. Talk with them about your symptoms and ask any questions that you may have. In severe cases, you stomach ulcer may start to bleed.
If that happens, you will likely be placed in the hospital for treatment. This treatment involves taking medication through an IV and an endoscopy to evaluate the issue. It is possible that you may also need to have a blood transfusion.
Surgical And Non-Surgical Treatment For Stomach Ulcers
You may need surgery to treat your stomach ulcer if your ulcer continues to return, is bleeding, it doesn’t heal, or it tears through the stomach. An untreated ulcer could also cause prevent food from flowing from the stomach to the small intestine.
If you must have surgery to treat your stomach ulcer, it could involve:
- The removal of the ulcer
- Removing tissue from part of the intestine and using it to patch over the site of the ulcer
- Treating a bleeding artery by tying it off
- Cutting off the nerve supply to the stomach which would lower the production of acid
There is also non-surgical treatment for stomach ulcers which can be highly effective. If you have a stomach ulcer caused by bacteria, your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic along with a PPI (proton pump inhibitor). This type of medication can block the cells in the stomach that produce acid.
Along with these treatment options, other non-surgical treatment for stomach ulcers can include:
- H2 receptor blocker drugs that prevent acid production
- No longer taking NSAIDs
- A follow-up endoscopy to assess the problem
- Taking probiotics that could kill the H. pylon bacteria
- Taking a bismuth supplement
With non-surgical treatment, your symptoms may go away quickly, or it could take some time. However, even if your symptoms disappear, you should continue taking your prescribed medication and follow your doctor’s instruction to prevent another stomach ulcer in the future.
Home Remedies To Treat Stomach Ulcers
You should always see your doctor if you are experiencing severe abdominal pain. But if it takes a while to get an appointment with your physician or if your symptoms aren’t too severe, you can give these home remedies a try:
- Taking probiotics
- Eating honey
- Glutamine (this nutrient is found in food such as chicken, fish, spinach, eggs and cabbage).
Your doctor can also provide you with suggestions for treatment you can try at home to get relief from your stomach ulcer symptoms.
Talk To Your Doctor Today If You Suspect You Have A Stomach Ulcer
If you have noticed any signs of a stomach ulcer and you suspect that you may have one, it is very important that you talk to your doctor. It could be nothing, but there is also a possibility that you have an ulcer, and if left untreated, it is only going to get worse.
If it turns out that you do have a stomach ulcer, be sure to follow all instructions from your doctor for treatment and relief.
Usually, most ulcers will go away with non-surgical treatment such as taking a prescription medication or by eliminating NSAIDs. It isn’t often that surgery is required, but if it is, the procedure usually isn’t serious, and recovery doesn’t take long.