STOMACH ULCER(PEPTIC ULCER)
Stomach Ulcers are sores on the lining of your stomach or small intestine. Sore also could be on your esophagus (throat). Most stomach ulcers are located in the small intestine. These ulcers are called duodenal ulcers. A stomach ulcer is called gastric ulcers. Ulcers in the throat are called esophageal ulcers.
The stomach produces a strong acid to help digest food and protect against microbes. To protect the tissues of the body from this acid, it also secretes a thick layer of mucus.
If the mucus layer is worn away and stops functioning effectively, the acid can damage the stomach tissue, causing an ulcer.
An estimated one in every ten people in Western countries will have an ulcer in the stomach or small intestine at some point in their lives.
Ulcers can also occur in the part of the intestine just beyond the stomach. These are known as duodenal ulcers.
Both stomach and duodenal ulcers are sometimes referred to as peptic ulcers.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF STOMACH ULCER
The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is a burning or gnawing pain in the center of the tummy (abdomen).
But stomach ulcers aren’t always painful and some people may experience other symptoms, such common symptoms include:
Common ulcer symptoms include:
- Discomfort between meals or during the night (duodenal ulcer)
- Discomfort when you eat or drink (gastric ulcer)
- Stomach pain that wakes you up at night
- Feel full fast
- Bloating, burning or dull pain in your stomach
- Comes and goes days or weeks at a time
- The discomfort lasts for minutes or hours
If your ulcer becomes perforated (torn), it becomes a bleeding ulcer. This can cause the following symptoms:
- Vomiting blood
- Unexpected weight loss
- Blood in your stool
- Pain in your back
CAUSES OF STOMACH ULCER
Peptic ulcers occur when acid in the digestive tract eats away at the inner surface of the stomach or small intestine. The acid can create a painful open sore that may bleed.
You are coated with a mucous layer that normally protects against acid. But if the amount of acid is increased, or the amount of mucus is decreased, you could develop an ulcer. Common causes include:
- A bacterium. Helicobacter pylori bacteria commonly live in the mucous layer that covers and protects tissues that line the stomach and small intestine. Often, the H. pylori bacterium causes no problems, but it can cause inflammation of the stomach’s inner layer, producing an ulcer.
It’s not clear how H. pylori infection spreads. It may be transmitted from one person to another by close contacts, such as kissing. People may also contract H. pylori through food and water.
- Regular use of certain pain relievers. Taking aspirin, as well as certain over-the-counter and prescription pain medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can irritate or inflame the lining of your stomach and small intestine. These medications include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, others), ketoprofen, and others. They do not include acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Peptic ulcers are more common in older adults who take these pain medications frequently or in people who take these medications for osteoarthritis.
- Other medications. Taking certain other medications along with NSAIDs, such as steroids, anticoagulants, low-dose aspirin, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), alendronate (Fosamax) and risedronate (Actonel), can greatly increase the chance of developing ulcers.
In addition to taking NSAIDs, you may have an increased risk of peptic ulcers if you:
- Smoke. Smoking may increase the risk of peptic ulcers in people who are infected with H. pylori.
- Drink alcohol. Alcohol can irritate and erode the mucous lining of your stomach, and it increases the amount of stomach acid that’s produced.
- Have untreated stress.
- Eat spicy foods.
STOMACH ULCER TREATMENT
Some peptic ulcers heal on their own. But if you don’t treat them, the ulcers tend to come back.
They can erode the blood vessel wall in your stomach or small intestine. They can cause swelling, which may block food from moving from your stomach into your small intestine.
If H. pylori are the culprit, your doctor may prescribe a mix of antibiotics to kill it. If aspirin and other NSAIDs are behind the ulcer, you may need to cut down on them, stop taking them altogether, or switch to another pain reliever.
Your doctor may also give you antacids to fight stomach acid, or prescribe medicine to lessen the acid your body makes. Prescription drugs called cytoprotective agents can help protect the lining of the stomach or small intestine so the ulcer can heal.
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