The term “gastric ulcer” also known as Peptic Ulcer Disease , refers to an ulcer of the stomach. Most stomach ulcers are caused by acid. Here are facts about stomach ulcers and what you can do to treat or prevent painful stomach ulcers from arising.
WHAT ARE GASTRIC ULCERS?
The word “ ulcer ” truly means “sore” or “wound.” “Gastric” alludes to the location of the sore: in the stomach. Thus, a gastric ulcer is a lesion that occurs inside the stomach. Usually, these ulcers penetrate the lining of the stomach and cause pain with or without bleeding. The usual cause of a gastric ulcer is acid, which is why stomach ulcers commonly are dubbed “peptic ulcers.” However, peptic ulcers can form in the small intestine as well as the stomach.
WHAT CAUSES GASTRIC ULCERS?
The body releases powerful acids within the stomach to assist digest foods. When these acids damage the lining of the stomach, a gastric ulcer ensues. The most common cause of a stomach ulcer is an infection by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (“H. pylori”). You can become infected with H. pylori by consuming food or drinking water infected with the bacteria. Frequent use of aspirin, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) also can induce stomach ulcers. NSAIDs can interfere with the stomach’s capacity to protect itself from the effects of digestive acids, which can cause an ulcer to form. Contrary to popular perception, stress and spicy meals do not induce ulcers.
GASTRIC ULCER SYMPTOMS
People can live for years with stomach ulcers and never have a symptom aside from slight soreness in the upper abdominal area. That makes ulcers harder to identify. In general, if you have any of the following symptoms you should make an appointment with your doctor for a check-up: Intense pain in the upper-left abdomen, especially after eating Stomach discomfort that improves when you take an antacid Stomach pain with nausea and/or vomiting Stool that is sticky and jet-black (often compared to roofing tar) (sometimes compared to roofing tar) Stool followed with a huge quantity of dark crimson blood in the toilet bowl Blood-red vomit Vomit that looks like coffee grounds in hue and consistency If you have any of these symptoms together with fainting, pale complexion or shortness of breath, you immediately seek emergency medical attention. Usually bleeding from an ulcer occurs slowly and over time, but occasionally it can occur suddenly. Rapid blood loss from an ulcer is considered a medical emergency.
TREATMENT OF GASTRIC ULCERS If your health care practitioner suspects you have a stomach ulcer, he or she may run numerous tests to acquire a diagnosis. These tests may involve blood tests for the H. pylori bacterium, as well as an upper endoscopy surgery. In this surgery, a small, flexible scope is pushed down through your esophagus and into your stomach to physically look for ulcers. You will be sedated with drugs during this treatment so you don’t suffer much if any, discomfort. Once stomach ulcers have been diagnosed, the therapy depends on the cause. Ulcers related to H. pylori normally are treated with antibiotics and antacid medicines. Ulcers produced from the use of NSAIDs often are treated by simply ceasing the use of these medications until the ulcers have healed. Ulcers caused by stomach acid normally are treated with drugs to decrease the quantity of acid produced by the body. Drinking milk and/or taking over-the-counter antacids may alleviate the pain of gastric ulcers, but they will not heal the ulcers themselves. Only medical procedures can repair stomach ulcers.
GASTRIC ULCER PREVENTION Because researchers don’t know exactly why some people get gastric ulcers while others do not, it’s hard to entirely remove your risk of acquiring a stomach ulcer at some point in your life. That said, some lifestyle adjustments can help minimize your chances of acquiring a stomach ulcer: Quit smoking Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption Avoid overusing NSAIDs It’s worth emphasizing that you do not need to consume any specific diet to treat or avoid acquiring a stomach ulcer. Spicy foods may irritate an existing ulcer, but studies do not indicate any relationship between diet and ulcer formation.