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How Do You Know If You Have A Stomach Ulcer?

How Do You Know If You Have A Stomach Ulcer? Here in this article, we will try our best to answer this question. A poor lifestyle can contribute to a stomach ulcer. Those who smoke, drink heavily or take certain drugs run the risk of developing one.

#What Is A Stomach Ulcer?

Peptic ulcer

A stomach or gastric ulcer is a raw area in the lining of the stomach wall, generally measuring between 10 mm and 25 mm in diameter.

The condition is fairly common, about 1:30 people will probably suffer from it at some time in their lives.

More often than not, it develops in middle age. Most stomach ulcer sufferers experience localized pain in the upper abdomen about an hour after eating.

The pain sometimes lasts for weeks and can continue on and off for years. There may be a loss of weight and appetite, but nausea and vomiting relieve the pain.

#What Causes A Stomach Ulcer?

The precise causes of ulcers are not fully understood. They occur when the protective mucus lining of the stomach breaks down, leaving it open to attack by the gastric juices which are normally present to digest food.

There may be a family tendency towards ulcers, but they are most likely to develop in people who smoke or drink heavily.

There is no good evidence that rushed meals or stress cause an ulcer. Certain drugs, in particular, aspirins or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may encourage an ulcer to form. Steroids may aggravate an existing ulcer. An infection of the stomach lining can also cause one.

SYMPTOMS

Pain, usually in the abdomen, but sometimes in the chest.
Weight loss.
Loss of appetite
Nausea.
Vomiting.
Blood in vomit or stools.

#How Is A Stomach Ulcer Diagnosed And Treated?

  • The presence of stomach ulcers can be suspected from the symptoms and confirmed by testing.
  • They usually respond well to self-help measures and drug treatment, but occasionally, surgery may be necessary.
  • Self-help means not smoking, reducing tea, coffee, and alcohol intake, and taking paracetamol instead of aspirin.
  • Eating small, frequent meals and taking antacid remedies, available at chemists without prescription, may ease the symptoms.

#When Should I See The Doctor?

If pain develops for the first time and persists for a week or two, you should consult your doctor.

If it suddenly becomes very severe, or you pass black colored stools (which indicate stomach bleeding) or vomit, this may indicate an emergency, and you should seek medical treatment immediately.

WARNING

If a stomach ulcer remains untreated, there could be serious complications, such as peritonitis or hemorrhaging. In rare cases, it could be malignant (cancerous).

Always follow the advice of your doctor. Seek treatment promptly if you have any of the symptoms listed in the Symptoms box.

#What Will The Doctor Do?

stomach ulcer

The doctor will examine the abdomen for signs of tenderness, abnormal swelling or lumps.

Confirmation of the diagnosis can come from a barium X-ray examination or an endoscopy (where a viewing device is passed into the stomach).

A biopsy sample may lie taken through the endoscope and analyzed to rule out the possibility of cancer.

Apart from advising on changes in lifestyle, the doctor may prescribe drugs which neutralize the acid in the stomach, reduce the production of acid, help to form a protective covering over the ulcer or treat the infection.

Most ulcers can be cured by this treatment. For the remainder, long-term drug treatment is required.

On some occasions, surgery is necessary, either to remove the scar tissue caused by the ulcer, which can block the outlet of the stomach into the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine) or remove part of the stomach which contains the ulcer.

#What Can I Do Myself?

You must change the lifestyle factors which might have contributed to the ulcer. If you consult your doctor, follow the medical advice given.

#Are Stomach Ulcers Dangerous?

If neglected or untreated, there may be serious complications, such as hemorrhaging, peritonitis or, rarely, cancer. However, most ulcers do respond readily to treatment.

#ULCER FORMATION

A healthy stomach lining

Mucus-secreting cells produce mucus which protects the stomach lining.

The start of a stomach ulcer

Erosion of the mucus layer may be caused by a number of factors, including bacteria, alcohol, and aspirin.

A bleeding stomach ulcer

As the erosion spreads deeper into the stomach wall a blood vessel may rupture.

A perforated stomach ulcer

If an ulcer erodes right through the stomach wall, it allows food and digestive juices to escape. This is very dangerous and can be fatal.

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