Stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcers, are sores that develop in the lining of the stomach, esophagus, or small intestine.
These ulcers can be extremely painful and may lead to other serious health problems if left untreated. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, and risk factors of stomach ulcers.
Symptoms of Stomach Ulcers
One of the most common symptoms of stomach ulcers is abdominal pain, which can range from mild to severe. Many people who suffer from stomach ulcers often describe the pain as a burning or gnawing sensation in the upper part of the stomach.
Other symptoms people experience include loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, heartburn, indigestion, dark stools, tarry stools, vomiting blood, and feeling full quicker. It’s recommended that anyone experiencing these symptoms seek immediate medical attention.
Causes of Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers can be caused by several factors, including a bacterial infection called H. pylori. H. pylori is a bacteria that can cause inflammation and damage to the stomach lining and is usually contracted in childhood.
However, it can live in the stomach without causing any symptoms, and it’s estimated that over half of the world’s population has H. pylori in their stomach, but not everyone experiences symptoms or health problems.
Risk Factors for Stomach Ulcers
Other factors that cause stomach issues include:
- The frequent use of NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen
- Alcohol consumption
- Stress and anxiety
- Genetic factors such as a family history of ulcers
Those with certain medical conditions, such as liver, kidney, or lung disease, are also likely to develop ulcers, and older adults are more likely to develop stomach ulcers. The Mayo Clinic also recommends avoiding the consumption of spicy foods.
Diagnoses and Treatment of Stomach Ulcers
Diagnosing stomach ulcers typically involves a medical professional asking about your medical history, performing a physical examination, and performing testing. Such tests may include the use of a thin, flexible tube with a camera inserted into the stomach to examine the lining.
This procedure is called an endoscopic examination. Another test involves testing the blood or stool to check for H. pylori.
If you are diagnosed with a stomach ulcer, your doctor may recommend treatment options that include acid blockers, antacids, antibiotics, or lifestyle changes. Acid blockers and antacids can reduce stomach acid production and help with symptoms.
Left untreated, stomach ulcers lead to serious complications such as perforation, obstruction, and bleeding. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that untreated peptic ulcers can result in gastric cancer. If you experience any symptoms of stomach ulcers, it’s vital to seek medical attention right away to avoid complications.
Stomach ulcers are a serious health condition that can cause pain, discomfort, and other health problems if left untreated. It’s important to learn how to identify the symptoms and causes of ulcers for early detection and treatment.
If you experience any symptoms of stomach ulcers, seek out medical attention right away to prevent complications and ensure proper treatment.