Stomach Ulcers- Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Stomach ulcers, which are also known as gastric ulcers, cause lot of pain in stomach. These are open sores that develop in the stomach lining. Stomach ulcers are characterized as peptic ulcers that affect whole digestive system by causing troublesome sores in stomach and small intestines.

Its manifestation is attributed to a marked decrease in protective mucus layer that covers stomach lining. Its decline invites digestive acids to damage the tissues of stomach lining and cause a painful condition of open sores or ulcer.

Causes of Stomach Ulcers 

Some of the causes of stomach ulcers are noteworthy.

  • Bacterial Infection: These are caused by the infection of bacterium Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori.
  • Drug Side-Effect: When some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen are used for long duration
  • Disease Aggravation:In certain cases, a disease Zollinger-Ellison syndrome can also cause stomach and intestinal ulcers. The production of acids increases in the body because of this syndrome. However, only 1% of peptic ulcer cases are attributed to it.

Stomach Ulcer Symptoms 

Stomach ulcer symptoms and their severity depend on the condition of stomach ulcers. Its treatment goes as per the intensity of the disease.

Commonly, one can notice a painful burning sensation right in the middle of the belly around navel. Noticeably, the pain could be more in empty stomach condition, which could last from few minutes to a longer duration. Besides, there would be some more symptoms indicating towards this disease.

  • Constant mild pain in stomach
  • Apparent weight loss
  • Reluctance to eat because of pain
  • Feeling of nausea or vomiting
  • Bloating 
  • Dark vomit or with blood stains
  • Feeling of fullness with only few morsels 
  • Belching 
  • Acid reflux 
  • Dark or tarry stool
  • Heartburn, when chest area seems on fire
  • When pain gets better after eating or taking antacids
  • Visibly symptoms like weariness, short-breath, or lighter skin would appear in animatic patients

If any of these stomach ulcer symptoms appear, you must talk to your doctor immediately. Bleeding ulcers could cause complications, so sooner is better to start its treatment.

Diagnosis of Stomach Ulcers

Diagnosis of stomach ulcers and following treatment is done based on symptoms that could be mild or severe.  Besides symptoms, the doctors review medical history and course of the medication of patient.

  • Test for Bacterium: Normally, doctors suggest blood, stool & breathe test for identifying the presence of H. Pylori bacteria. Breathe test is done with patient drinking clear liquid and breathing it out into a bag, which is then sealed. This bag is tested for H. Pylori on the basis of higher carbon dioxide content.
  • Barium Swallow Test: Patient is told to drink a white barium sulfate liquid that layers upon upper gastrointestinal tract that enables doctor to trace ulcers through X-rays.
  • Endoscopy (EGD): In this test, an illuminating tube with camera is inserted through mouth into the digestive tract. Through color monitor, doctor looks for ulcers, bleeding, tissue damages, and any other abnormalities.
  • Endoscopic biopsy: This biopsy is done by taking out a tissue from stomach to analyze.

Stomach Ulcer Treatment

After all the tests and diagnosis done, appropriate treatment would be suggested by the doctor. Milder ulcers can be treated through medicines, while in severe cases doctor can even suggest surgeries. In case of bleeding ulcers, you may be hospitalized to treat you with IV medications and blood transfusions.

Therapeutic treatment for stomach ulcers

If you are identified with H. Pylori, you can be suggested to take a drug called proton pump inhibitors (PPPI). This drug blocks the acid producing stomach cells. Besides, the H2 receptor blockers are suggested to block acid production.

Doctor may also suggest: – 

  • Not to take NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Go for endoscopy
  • Take probiotics that may remove H. pylori bacteria
  • Bismuth supplements

There is a recurring fear of H. Pylori infection to reappear. Though symptoms may subside soon, but you should not stop using medicines, as prescribed, to completely eradicate bacteria. 

Side Effects of Medications 

The side effects of bacteria may be temporary, which may include nausea, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, and abdominal pains. If these continue for long and cause discomfort, talk to your doctor.

Surgical Treatment for Ulcers

The surgery may be required in certain rare cases of complex stomach ulcer condition. This may include the ulcer cases that keep on reappearing, bleed, don’t heal completely, causing tearing pains, and undigested food.

Surgery Is Done For:-

  • Whole ulcer removal 
  • Grafting tissues on ulcer with tissues taken from other parts of intestine.
  • Securing a bleeding artery.
  • Terminating the nerve leading to stomach to stop acid production.

Healthy Diet to Cure Ulcer

The diet once was known to be a culprit in aggravating or causing ulcers. The studies found it baseless, as diet neither cures nor causes ulcer. However, a healthy diet can be beneficial to your overall digestive system. 

Indirectly, some foods help remove H. pylori and boost the healthy bacteria in body. The fruits like apples, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are good. The vegetables include leafy greens spinach, kale broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and radishes, besides fiber in food help maintain good digestion.

Probiotic-rich foods such as miso, sauerkraut, kombucha, olive oil, yogurt, with lactobacillus and Sacharomyces contents, are helpful. It is better to refrain from spicy and sour foods to control acid reflux, when ulcer is healing. 

Stomach Ulcers Home Remedies 

There are few home remedies also, besides the healthy foods to help get over H. Pylori. 

  • Honey
  • Probiotics
  • Glutamine food sources like chicken, fish, and eggs.

You can consult your doctor also.

Medical Help

Call doctor when you notice weakness, having troubled breathing, red or black vomit or stools, and uncontrolled sharp pain in your abdomen.

Prevention of Stomach Ulcers

Wash your hands with soap and water properly before and after eating. Wash the food items thoroughly before cooking food.