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Gastric Ulcer: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jun 13, 2022

What is the treatment?

Stomach ulcers or gastric ulcers are a type of peptic ulcer disorder. Gastric ulcers are painful sores that develop in the lining of the stomach whereas peptic ulcers particularly affect not only the stomach but also the small intestine. Our stomach is protected by a thick blanket of mucus from digestive juices which gets reduced during a case of gastric or stomach ulcer.

Gastric ulcers can be treated easily but when left ignored it can turn into a serious affair. Gastric ulcers are caused when the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori (H.Pylori) gives rise to an is believed that this bacteria spreads via water, unclean food or eating utensils. Prolonged usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen also leads to gastric ulcers. The symptoms of gastric ulcers are indicative of the severity of your condition. Perhaps, the most common sign of gastric ulcer is that of burning feeling in the middle of the abdominal region between the chest and the belly button area. If you are on an empty stomach you are likely to experience more intense pain than on a normal circumstance. This pain can last for as little as a few minutes to hours and hours.

The other symptoms of gastric ulcers include feelings of nausea, bloated stomach, heartburn, anemia, reduced appetite due to pain, loss in weight, acid reflux and dark or tarry stools. On noticing these symptoms notify your doctor right away because stomach ulcers when left untreated may turn into something severe in the long run.

What are the symptoms of gastric ulcers?

Gastric ulcers symptoms depend upon the severity of symptoms. The most common symptom is a burning sensation in the abdomen. A gastric ulcer pain after eating a meal or during nighttime. Also, many people with ulcers don't even have symptoms.

Ulcers may cause severe Gastric Ulcer Symptoms such as:

  1. Stomach pain
  2. Nausea or vomiting
  3. Bloating
  4. Burning sensation in the chest
  5. Anemia
  6. Acid reflux
Summary: Gastric ulcers signs are painful sores in the lining of the stomach which include a number of symptoms depending upon the severity of the disease.

What causes gastric ulcer?

Gastric Ulcer are caused due to the following issues: The breakdown of the layer protects the stomach lining from the stomach acids and then results in damage to the stomach lining. The breakdown of this layer occurs due to an infection caused by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).

Also, due to the intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin for a longer period of time.

Summary: Gastric ulcers may be caused due to infection with the bacterium H.pylori and due to the long-term use of NSAIDs.

How is gastric ulcer diagnosed?

There are mainly three ways for gastric ulcers diagnosis as follows:

  • Laboratory tests: Gastric ulcers mainly occur due to an infection caused by H.pylori. So it is important to detect H.pylori bacteria in the body. This may be done by blood tests, stool tests, or breath tests. The most reliable among these is the breath test.
  • Endoscopy: It is done to look for the presence of ulcers in the upper digestive system. In case, the doctor detects an ulcer, he may take a small tissue as a sample to check for the presence of H.pylori in the stomach lining.
  • Upper Gastrointestinal Series: It is a series of X-rays done for the upper digestive tract in which the patient is supposed to drink a white liquid that contains barium; also known as a barium swallow. It helps to make ulcers visible in the images.
Summary: Gastric Ulcer treatment and diagnosis depend upon symptoms and severity of the ulcer. The doctor may review your medical history along with your symptoms. In most cases, gastric ulcers are cured with medicine but in rare cases, surgery may be required.

How to prevent gastric ulcer?

Gastric ulcers can be prevented by just being careful with what you eat, avoiding the intake of NSAIDs, and avoiding alcohol and smoking. Gastric Ulcer prevention includes:

  • NSAIDs: Avoid NSAIDs as these directly affect the mucus which protects our stomach from acids and causes gastric ulcers.
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking: These are the most common causes of gastric ulcers because these lead to thinning of the mucus lining.
  • Manage stress: Stress can make gastric ulcers more intense and worse.
  • Hand Hygiene: This can be done by washing your hands at regular intervals, drinking clean water, and following a healthy diet to prevent H.pylori.
Summary: Certain healthy lifestyle changes and eating habits can reduce the risk of developing a gastric ulcer. Quit smoking and eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables, grains, and fruits.

Can gastric ulcers go away on its own?

No, it doesn’t go on its own. It requires a proper course of treatment to treat gastric ulcers; along with the medicines which would help to reduce the acids in the stomach. For the treatment of H.pylori, you need to take antibiotics.

The healing can be done even faster if the patient stops taking alcohol and smoking. Ignoring the symptoms may lead to more difficult problems. It requires proper treatment to be done.

Summary: It needs a proper treatment to cure gastric ulcers as ignoring the symptoms may lead to more difficulties later.

How is the treatment done?

The first step towards treatment for gastric ulcer begins with the doctor asking you of the possible symptoms and your complete medical history. Usually ulcers cause pain in a number of parts of your body. If your doctor suspects that you have an ulcer he/she will ask you to carry out certain tests to confirm. Such tests include blood tests, urea breath test and stool culture. An H. pylori infection can be determined in the blood test by the presence of infection-fighting cells. A stool culture will be sent for lab testing to detect the presence of H.pylori bacterium. The urea breath test will require you to swallow a pill which contains carbon. You will then be asked to breathe into a bag which will be sent to a lab for analysis.

Other tests for diagnosing gastric ulcers are Endoscopy (EGD), Endoscopic biopsy and swallowing of barium. In endoscopy, a tube is inserted into the mouth. It is inserted further into the stomach to reach the small intestine and takes pictures of the entire area. This test helps to find any trace of bleeding or any abnormal lookinsg tissue. In endoscopic biopsy a part of the stomach tissue is removed for lab tests. In the barium swallowing test, the patient is made to drink barium which forms a lining in the gastrointestinal tract. This enables the doctor to see on the x-ray the small intestine and the stomach.

A surgical method is only prescribed depending on the site and nature of the ulcer formed. In case a surgery is prescribed fluid administration should start the moment a diagnosis has been made. For correct fluid transfer using a Swan-Ganz catheter or a central line might be necessary.

Should I go to urgent care for Gastric Ulcer?

People who don't seek any medical attention or seek therapy or don't follow their treatment plan are more likely to experience complications. Ulcers are dangerous, yet they are rarely fatal. Internal bleeding, perforation, and intestinal obstruction are among the serious side effects of ulcers.

You should take urgent medical care if you face any of the following symptoms:

  • Intense stomach pain
  • Extreme sweating
  • Confusion
  • Faint
  • Blood in vomit or in your stool
  • Hard or painful abdomen that doesn't go away
  • Trouble breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
Summary: Ulcers in the stomach can be extremely dangerous. Bleeding at the ulcer site, and breaking of the stomach lining at the ulcer's site (perforation) are the most common consequences.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

People who experience bleeding at the site of ulcer, who suffer from weakness, who have trouble breathing, who experience pain in the abdominal area and those who have red stools are eligible for treatment and should seek help from a healthcare provider right away.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Information not available

Are there any side effects?

The side effects of barium swallowing tests include constipation, getting barium in the windpipe and certain adverse reaction to people who are allergic to barium.

When you are detected with a H.pylori infection you will be asked to take a few antibiotics. These antibiotics resultantly may cause reactions such as diarrhoea, a sensation of metallic taste in the mouth and the feeling sick.

If you have been asked to use proton pump inhibitors you are likely to experience dizziness, skin rashes, diarrhoea and constipation. And if you are taking H2 receptor blockers then you may experience fatigue, rashes, headaches and dizziness.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Certain post-treatment guidelines that you should follow are taking of NSAID drugs with your meals. These medications protect the stomach lining. Abstain from drinking alcohol and drinks that are caffeinated. Patients should not smoke cigarettes or tobacco as that slows down the process of healing. Take all the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor on time as not doing so can cause a recurrence of the H.pylori infection. Make sure that you do not take added stress at this time or worry too much. Sleep well and do things that make you happy and relaxed. Reducing the amount of stress in life plays a big part in keeping gastric ulcer symptoms from escalating.

How long does it take to recover?

usually it takes around 2-3 weeks to treat the H.pylori infection. The doctor may advice to take a medication that can reduce the stomach acid amount for a period of 8 weeks. It has been seen that most ulcers heal by this time.

What should I eat if I have a gastric ulcer?

Along with the medications, you require a balanced and healthy diet for faster healing of gastric ulcers. A proper diet includes the following:

  • Dietary Fiber: It includes flax seeds, legumes, oats, oranges, apples, and carrots. These help to prevent gastric ulcers.
  • Vitamin A: It is better to take food enriched with Vitamin A as it helps to increase mucus protection in the gastrointestinal tract. For ex- broccoli, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and collard greens.
  • Green Tea: It helps to prevent H.pylori.
Summary: It is advised to take a healthy diet to cure gastric ulcers which include vitamin A enriched food, dietary fiber, green tea, and so on.

What not to eat with a gastric ulcer?

Some food items tend to increase the production of stomach acids which even worsens gastric ulcers. So it is better to avoid such food items which include:

  • Alcohol
  • Pepper
  • Caffeine
  • Peppermint
  • Chocolates
  • Tomatoes
Summary: It is better to avoid those food items which increase the secretion of stomach acids as these acids are the main cause of gastric ulcers.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Information not available

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

It has been observed that the treatment for people diagnosed with stomach ulcer or gastric ulcer has been quite successful. By curing the H. pylori infection or by not taking anti-inflammatory medications chances of a possible recurrence of stomach ulcer can be prevented.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The alternative to a medical treatment for curing your gastric ulcer problem is by following a healthy diet at home. Adopt a diet full of fruits (like apples, berries), vegetables (radishes, leafy greens, cauliflower), olive oil and probiotic-rich foods to remove the H,pylori infection naturally.

Physical exercises for people suffering from gastric ulcers:

You can do moderate and easy exercises which could help to reduce the risk factors of the gastric ulcer. These exercises can help to reduce gastric secretions and boost our immune function. This could later help in reducing the risk of H.pylori.

Yoga and Pilates help the mind and the body to increase strength, flexibility, and mental condition. Take a yoga or Pilates session to clear your mind and relieve tension while gaining strength and flexibility.

Some yoga poses can help with bloating and other ulcer symptoms by providing digestive comfort. Poses like supine twist and cat-cow are advised as preventions.

Summary: Moderate and easy exercises could help a lot in case of gastric ulcers and also helps in boosting our immune system and reducing the risk of Gastric ulcer.

Which is the best medicine for gastric ulcer?

  • Antibiotics: If H. pylori are found in your stomach, your doctor may prescribe a combination of medications to destroy the bacteria. The best medicine for gastric ulcers are:
    • Tinidazole (Tindamax)
    • Metronidazole (Flagyl)
    • Amoxicillin (Amoxil)
    • Clarithromycin (Biaxin)
    • Tetracycline
    • Levofloxacin
  • PPIs (proton pump inhibitors): These help in reducing acid production in the stomach, thus preventing further damage to ulcers. PPIs are given usually for 4 to 8 weeks. Gastric ulcer medications include:
    • Omeprazole (Prilosec)
    • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
    • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
    • Pantoprazole (both prescription and over-the-counter)
    • Omeprazole (Prilosec)
    • Rabeprazole (Aciphex)
  • Acid blockers: It is also known as Histamine(H-2) blockers. It works by lowering the stomach acid released into the digestive tract. It reduces stomach discomfort and promotes the healing of ulcers.

Your health care expert may prescribe cytoprotective medications, which help in safeguarding the tissues that line your stomach and small intestine in particular circumstances. Medications like Misoprostol and Sucralfate (Carafate) are also among them.

Summary: Gastric ulcer treatment depends upon the cause. Treatment for ulcers generally involves eliminating factors that interrupt the healing along with different gastric ulcer medications. The best gastric ulcer medication is Pepcid, Prevacid, and Prilosec.
Conclusion: Stomach ulcers are also known as gastric ulcers. A gastric ulcer is a lesion on the stomach lining. The gastric ulcers may be easily cured but can become severe without proper treatment. The two major causes of gastric ulcers are- a. Infection by H.pylori bacteria and b. By use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.


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Written ByDr. Pankaj Verma ACLS,POST GRADUATE COURSE IN RHEUMATOLOGY,Fellowship in Diabetes,MBBS,Post Graduate Course In Rheumatology,MD - Medicine,Masters in Psychotherapy and CounsellingInternal Medicine
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