What is a Stomach Ulcer?
A stomach ulcer, or gastric ulcer, is mainly caused by the bacterium, Helicobacter pylori. Prolonged use of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen and aspirin, may also cause stomach ulcers in some users.
Understanding a Stomach Ulcer
Peptic ulcer is a term familiar to many of us, but did you know stomach acid is the cause of peptic ulcers? A peptic ulcer can occur is several areas, including the lower esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Duodenum ulcers are the most common, followed by stomach ulcers and then lower esophagus ulcers, which are the least common. Damage from Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), one of the major causes of a peptic ulcer, begins when the H. pylori bacterium weakens and breaks the protective lining of the stomach, resulting in the soft tissue below the lining becoming exposed. Once the strong stomach acid comes in contact with the exposed soft tissue, the area will become irritated and an ulcer will form.
Stomach Ulcer Symptoms
The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is constant stomach discomfort. This symptom presents itself as a sudden pain in the stomach, that may come and go, and carry on for a few days. The stomach pain will usually subside once you eat something, but gradually return in 2 to 3 hours. The pain will also disappear immediately after taking an antacid. Taking an antacid will not cure this pain and will only subdue it for a short time.
If these symptoms coincide with a sudden loss of apatite, nausea and vomiting, consult a doctor, as they are likely signs of a stomach ulcer. Catching a stomach ulcer in the early stages can prevent its spread, which will save you from unneeded pain and, in advanced stages, the need to be constantly medicated.
Advanced Stomach Ulcer Symptoms
It is possible that no early symptoms of a stomach ulcer may be present. If this is the case, you may not notice any symptoms until the stomach ulcer has spread and is in the advanced stages. If you noticed any of these advanced symptoms, your stomach ulcer is most likely in the advanced stages, so contact a doctor immediately.
- You experience a sharp, sudden, stinging pain in your stomach that will not go away.
- You vomit blood. This may be fresh blood, or dried blood, which presents itself with a dark brown coloring.
- Your stool contains blood.
- Your stool has a dark brown, or black coloring, for no apparent reason.
These symptoms usually mean that there is major damage to the stomach lining, or a rupture of tissue. These problems can be curable, if caught early enough, so seek a doctor immediately, if you have any of these stomach ulcer symptoms.
How a Stomach Ulcer is Cured
When H. pylori is found, you will be prescribed medication that will kill the bacteria, while coating the ulcer. This coating will minimize contact between the ulcer and stomach acid, thus allowing the ulcer to heal. Most of the drugs prescribed will be antibiotics, with varying dosages, depending on the severity of the infection. If the ulcer is in the early stages, the dosage will be minimal. As the ulcer spreads, the dosage will increase, as will the unpleasant side effects. The side effects of the antibiotics may include: loss of apatite due to an unpleasant taste in the mouth, vomiting, diarrhea and headache. The treatment usually lasts from 2 to 3 weeks, with the patient being fully cured after a couple of months.
Seeing a doctor is important to curing an ulcer. Taking any medications, including an antacid, without seeing a doctor, may lead to a worsening of the ulcer. Taking the doctor prescribed medications is the only way to cure the ulcer, so do not attempt to self-medicate. Taking the doctor prescribed medications will ensure a total and speedy recovery.
Smoking, drinking alcohol, taking any sort of aspirin and eating spicy foods will upset your ulcer. If you have any of these symptoms, do not partake in any of these activities while the ulcer is present, as abstaining will give the ulcer time to heal.
A Common Misconception
Often times, people believe that eating spicy foods will cause an ulcer. This is simply a misconception. While eating spicy foods can upset an already present ulcer, eating spicy foods is not one of the causes of a stomach ulcer. If you have a stomach ulcer present, abstain from eating any spicy foods until the ulcer is fully cured.Read more: