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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Causes, Symptoms, And Diagnosis Of Stomach Ulcer

What is a stomach ulcer?
Stomach 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.

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.

Stomach ulcers may be easily cured, but they can become severe without proper treatment.

There are three types of peptic ulcers:

  • gastric ulcers: ulcers that develop inside the stomach.
  • esophageal ulcers: ulcers that develop inside the esophagus.
  • duodenal ulcers: ulcers that develop in the upper section of the small intestines, called the duodenum.

Stomach ulcer statistics

  • About 20 million Americans develop at least one stomach ulcer during their lifetime.
  • Stomach ulcers affect about 4 million Americans every year.
  • More than 40,000 Americans have surgery because of persistent symptoms or problems from ulcers every year.
  • About 6,000 Americans die of stomach ulcer-related complications every year.


CAUSES
What causes stomach ulcers?
Stomach ulcers are almost always caused by one of the following:


  • an infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen
  • Rarely, a condition known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers by increasing the body’s production of acid. This syndrome is suspected to cause less than 1 percent of all peptic ulcers.


SYMPTOMS
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.

What does a Stomach Ulcer affect?
The main thing that a stomach ulcer affects is the nerves surrounding it. The nerves become agitated and cause a great amount of pain. Stomach ulcers can cause hemorrhages from the erosion of a major blood vessel; a tear in the wall of the stomach or intestine, with resultant peritonitis; or obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract because of spasm or swelling in the area of the ulcer.

Other common signs and symptoms of ulcers include:

  • dull pain in the stomach
  • weight loss
  • not wanting to eat because of pain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • bloating
  • feeling easily full
  • burping or acid reflux
  • heartburn (burning sensation in the chest)
  • pain that may improve when you eat, drink, or take antacids
  • anemia (symptoms can include tiredness, shortness of breath, or paler skin)
  • dark, tarry stools
  • vomit that’s 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 aren’t treated. Bleeding ulcers can become life-threatening.


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 you’re taking.

To rule out H. pylori infection, a blood, stool, or breath test may be ordered. With a breath test, you’ll 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 (barium) that coats your upper gastrointestinal tract and helps your doctor see your stomach and small intestine on X-rays.
  • 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.
  • Endoscopic biopsy: A piece of stomach tissue is removed so it can be analyzed in a lab.

Is a Stomach Ulcer Serious?

Many stomach ulcers heal on their own. However, it is important to seek medical attention if you believe you have a stomach ulcer. If not properly treated, stomach ulcers can lead to serious health problems, including:


  • Internal bleeding
  • A hole through the wall of the stomach
  • Gastric outlet obstruction from swelling or scarring that blocks the passageway leading from the stomach to the small intestine.



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