Stomach ulcers are defined as the sores that develop in the lining of the stomach or small intestine (the duodenum). These occur as a result of a reduction in the effectiveness of the mucus membrane lining the stomach.
A type of strong acid is produced in the stomach to aid digestion and prevent microbes. In order to protect the stomach tissues from this acid, our body develops a thick layer called the mucus membrane.
If the mucus membrane deteriorates and loses its effectiveness, the acid reaches the stomach tissue and results in damage, resulting in a stomach ulcer.
Some trusted sources say that in western countries, approximately one in ten people might suffer from stomach ulcers at some point of time in their lives.
Usually. stomach ulcers can be cured easily, but untreated stomach ulcers lead to significant health complications.
Symptoms of stomach ulcers
Stomach ulcers are accompanied by many symptoms. Their severity is dependent on how severe the ulcer is.
A burning sensation or pain in the middle of your abdomen is the most common symptom of this condition. You will experience more severe pain if your stomach is empty, and this pain is likely to last for a few minutes to several hours.
Some other symptoms of stomach ulcers include:
- Dull stomach pain
- Unexpected weight loss
- Having a hard time eating because of pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Feeling full easily
- Acid reflux or burping
- The pain improves after eating, drinking, or taking antacids
- Anaemia associated with symptoms like tiredness, breathlessness, or paler skin
- Dark and tarry stools
- Blood in vomitings
In case you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, talk to a gastroenterologist. It may seem that mild ulcers may not cause any discomfort, but if left untreated, they can become more serious. Especially bleeding ulcers might tend to be life-threatening.
Causes of peptic ulcers
The following reasons are almost always responsible for stomach ulcers:
- An infection caused by the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria
- Using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, or naproxen for the long term.
Zollinger-Ellison syndrome rarely causes stomach and intestinal ulcers by boosting the production of acid in the stomach. Excess stomach acidity or hyperacidity is another less common cause of stomach ulcers.
Taking steroids frequently, smoking, hypercalcemia, genetics and frequent consumption of alcohol can put you at risk of developing stomach ulcers.
Treatment for stomach ulcers or peptic ulcers
Peptic ulcers treatment mainly depends on its cause. A common treatment involves treating the underlying cause and killing the H. pylori bacteria, if present. If NSAIDs cause peptic ulcers you may need to stop taking them or change course if possible, and medication is given to heal ulcers.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPI), H2 blockers and antibiotics are commonly used medications in the process of ulcers treatment. Some protective medications are given to prevent further damage to stomach tissues from ulcers.
Surgical intervention may be necessary in certain situations. For example, if the ulcer doesn’t heal and continues to recur or bleeds, or pushes the food into the small intestine.
- Extracting the ulcer
- Reducing bleeding by tying off blood vessels
- Patching the ulcer site with tissue taken from another part of the intestine
- Nerves in the stomach are tied off in order to reduce acid production
Bleeding and perforation from stomach ulcers are rare complications. In both cases, prompt medical care is required. For more detailed information about stomach ulcers or looking for peptic ulcer treatment in Hyderabad, consult Dr. Karunakar Reddy, a renowned gastroenterologist in Hyderabad.