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 infection.it 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.