you have abdominal discomforts (e.g. a dull or burning pain)? Does the pain
flare up with empty stomach? If so, you may wonder whether the pain you’re
feeling might be a stomach ulcer, an open sore (also called as peptic ulcer)
that develops in the lining of the stomach. So what does it feel like?
stomach has thick layer of mucus to protect its soft lining. An open sore may
form in the stomach lining when this mucus coating is diminished.
improper functioning of the layer, the soft lining is more vulnerable to get
damaged from irritating things like extreme stomach acid when the stomach
digests food. The digestive acid may eat away at the soft tissue of the
stomach, resulting in an ulcer.
There are several causes to blame. But you’re probably surprised to know that bacterial infection and pain relievers are the most common culprits behind the problem.
bacterial infection is the leading cause for stomach ulcer. About 75 percent of
all cases have to do with H. pylori infection . Thanks to J.
Robin Warren and Drs. Barry Marshall, they were awarded for the Nobel Prize in
Medicine (2015) due to their finding on this.
Overgrowth of H. pylori in the
stomach may provoke damage to the mucus layer, increasing the risk of
developing inflammation and ulcers in the stomach lining.
Interestingly, not all people with
H. pylori bacteria develop ulcers. About 30-40 percent of population in the U.S
is infected. And did you know what? Most of them don’t get ulcer. This may
suggest that other factors have a role to make the open sore more likely.
How we get H. pylori infection is
also not fully understood yet. But it seems the infection may spread through
water, saliva, food, or eating utensils. It’s also probably acquired during
childhood (sometimes asymptomatic, without noticeable symptoms).
is probably particularly true for NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
These include naproxen sodium, aspirin, and ibuprofen. Long-term use on these
pills may raise the risk by about 20 times higher .
use of NSAIDs may hurt the defense mechanism of your stomach in a couple of
different ways. This risk increases higher if you take more than two types of
NSAIDs and take them regularly for a long time.
It’s thought that cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) may get impaired with long term use of NSAIDs. COX-1 plays a role in protecting the stomach lining since this enzyme is involved in producing prostaglandins (hormone-like natural chemicals, which are important to provide protection against a range of different harmful things that cause mucosal damage) .
NSAIDs may also interfere with the production of mucus and bicarbonate, making
the stomach more vulnerable to negative effects of stomach acid and pepsin.
Bicarbonate is important to help neutralize digestive fluids.
What else?Along with H. pylori infection and long-term use of NSAIDs, the
following risk factors may also make stomach ulcer more likely:
- Age factor. In general, the risk increases
with age especially at age 70 or older.
- A personal history of having
stomach ulcer before.
- Lifestyle factors (drinking
alcohol and cigarette smoking).
- Taking medicines to boost bone
mass (corticosteroids for example).
- Having two or more health conditions.
good news, the open sore is curable. Some effective treatments are available to
get rid of the problem without leaving after effects.
plan depends on the underlying cause of the open sore. If it has to do with H.
pylori infection, the use of antibiotics is a must. And you have to complete
the course of these antibiotics to make sure that the infection is healed
stomach acid also has an effect on healing process – a higher, uncontrolled
acid can make the open sore take longer to heal – treatments to reduce or block
acid production are also necessary. These include proton pump inhibitors and histamine
with a few modifications of lifestyle (e.g. changes in diet, good stress
management, avoiding alcohol, and avoiding tobacco smoke), treatments are often
successful to carry a cure for most patients. Surgery is now rarely used!
key is to take treatment as early as possible. Because once the problem becomes
advanced, it’s relatively more difficult to treat and likely to cause
complications such as internal bleeding, blockage (obstruction), or even a
life-threatening perforation (hole).
knowing any related signs and symptoms of stomach ulcer are important so you
can seek medical help immediately when you have to!
open sore can cause a number of signs and symptoms. And the severity of the
ulcer is usually equivalent with the severity of the symptoms.
stomach ulcer symptoms, burning sensation or pain is the most common one.
Typically, it is felt in the middle or upper part of abdomen specifically
between the belly button and breastbone (chest), where your stomach is located
in the body.
pain usually feels like burning, gnawing, or dull sensation. In a few cases it
also could be stabbing or intense, depending on the severity of the open sore. Sometimes
it could be strong enough to radiate elsewhere in the body, such as the back.
this may vary from person to person, including for duration. It may last in a
few minutes or longer (several hours). Also, it could be chronic – come &
go in days, weeks, or even a few months.
But one unique thing to remember, in general the pain is more likely to flare up with empty stomach.
it gets worse between meals such as in the morning or at night – though again
this varies by individual. People usually have a spike in stomach acid when
their stomach is empty. And high level of this acid can worsen the symptoms and
make the open sore take longer to heal.
the other hand, the pain is likely to relieve for a while when you take
antacids (acid-reducing medication) or if you eat foods that can buffer your
stomach acid . But not all foods are good to
help deal with since certain foods would also exacerbate the pain and other
stomach ulcer symptoms.
instance, high fatty foods are one of common culprits since they’re likely to
sit around in the gastric longer (this will drive more production of stomach
things in diet that may provoke the symptoms include: alcohol, caffeine, milk,
high trans-fat food (e.g. fried foods), acidic foods (including acidic fruits
like citrus fruits), tomatoes, and heavily spiced foods.
see a doctor for accurate diagnosis since some signs and symptoms are quite
examples, stomach ulcer may also cause vogue symptoms such as nausea,
heartburn, bloating (feeling of fullness), or fatty foods intolerance. Even
about almost 75 percent of patients don’t have signs and symptoms, according to
Mayo Clinic. This suggests that many people probably don’t realize the disease
until it becomes quite advanced .
analyzing signs and symptoms you have, several tests are required to diagnose
stomach ulcer accurately. These may include :
- Labs and tests such as blood
test, urea breath test, or/and stool test. These procedures are usually focused
to look for the existence of H. pylori infection!
- Imaging tests such as CT scan,
endoscopy (inserting small tube through the throat), or upper gastrointestinal
series (barium swallow). These tests provide more detailed pictures of your
stomach and its structure so doctors can find out whether there is an abnormal
thing in there.
several medical conditions can cause symptoms similar to those of stomach
ulcer. Therefore doctors may also need to consider these issues. Some of these
conditions are gastritis, esophagitis, nonulcer dyspepsia, or gastric cancer.
it’s important to follow your ulcer treatment comprehensively to boost a complete
cure more likely. Without proper treatment, it might turn into serious.
often, severe signs and symptoms of stomach ulcer may occur. Some of these are