ulcer (open sore) can develop on the stomach lining (called stomach ulcer) or
first part of the intestine (called duodenal ulcer). A number of treatment
options are available to soothe and heal the open sore, and this is usually dependent
on the underlying cause. Fortunately, the disease is curable in most cases (see
more this prognosis in here). The next question, how do you
know if it is healed completely?
Diagnosis and tests
the first things to look for are the symptoms of the disease. Though the
symptoms can vary, abdominal burning or gnawing pain is the most common
symptom. The pain can sometimes be severe enough to travel elsewhere in the
body such as the neck and back. It usually flares up between meals (with empty
stomach) and will relieve for a while when you eat certain foods that buffer
your stomach acid.
symptoms include; heartburn (acid reflux), indigestion, changes in appetite, unintentional
weight loss, general feeling of being sick, nausea, fatty food tolerance, and
abdominal bloating. Sometimes there is no any symptom until the complications
of the disease develop (internal bleeding from the ulcer, for example).
doctor thinks that your ulcer symptoms may be associated with H-pylori
infection, he usually recommends urea breath test. In this procedure, you eat
or drink something containing a chemical (a kind of radioactive carbon) that can
be easily broken down by H-pylori bacteria in the stomach or intestines. Then
your doctor will analyze your breath sample to determine whether or not you
have H-pylori infection.
alternatives to identify the infection include blood and stool tests. But in
many cases, the breath test is often accurate enough. And tell your doctor if
you’re taking any medications before testing for H-pylori infection. This is
important because particular medications (especially antacids) may cause
not all people with H-pylori infection develop ulcers, other tests are usually required.
gastrointestinal imaging tests to get detailed images of your upper
gastrointestinal system such as the esophagus, stomach, and also small
intestine. This procedure involves the series of X-rays and at the same time
you swallow liquid containing barium to make an ulcer become more visible.
necessary, your doctor may suggest upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and biopsy.
During endoscopy, an endoscope (a flexible, hollow tube equipped with special
camera) is slowly inserted through your mouth down into the esophagus, stomach,
and upper section of small intestine. To make it comfortable, you are given a
mild sedative injection and a local anesthetic. If an ulcer is discovered, small
tissue samples are removed for closely examination in a lab.
endoscopy and biopsy are more recommended in elderly people and if there are
any signs of internal bleeding or other serious symptoms such as difficulty
swallowing and extreme weight loss [reference].
are a number of treatment options for peptic ulcers. The underlying cause of
your ulcer usually plays a key role in determining the kind of treatment you
need to take. For example, if the disease is caused by H-pylori infection,
treatment is focused to cure the infection with antibiotic medications. If it’s
triggered by frequent use of pain killers such as aspirin or NSAID, eliminating
(if possible) or reducing that medication is required.
of treatments are also available to help make your ulcer heal more quickly. Some
are as follows:
medications such as cytoprotective agents, to help give extra protection for
your stomach and intestinal lining.
to help keep your stomach acid in balance. Options include reducing acid
production (histamine (H-2) blockers) and blocking acid production (proton pump
changes in diet and other lifestyle measures can help (e.g. changes in diet)! In
rare cases, surgery may be recommended if you
develop a serious complication from the disease.
How do you know that your ulcer
with peptic ulcers may not seek medical help until the symptoms become very
bothersome. The symptoms may come and go. Interestingly, sometimes the disease
heals on its own. But this doesn’t mean that you can ignore it! Treatment is
necessary even though the disease hasn’t caused any symptoms.
disease may turn into serious if left untreated. Even with treatment, sometimes
it returns. In worse scenario, the disease becomes resistant or fails to heal
(this situation is also called ‘refractory ulcer’).
following are some reasons that may lead to a refractory ulcer [source]:
you’re a smoker and continue smoking during or after treatment. It’s thought
that tobacco smoke might also have a role to irritate the tissues that cover
the stomach and intestines.
taking your medications as you have been told. For example, it’s important to
take the entire course of antibiotics. If you stop taking your antibiotics
early, this may cause antibiotic resistance and the infection is not completely
you doesn’t discontinue or reduce particular pain medications (NSAIDs) that increase
the risk of developing an ulcer.
less common cases, a persistent ulcer may be a consequence of an infectious
reason other than H-pylori, Crohn’s disease (a condition that can cause
ulcer-like sore), stomach cancer, or something else.