Gastric ulcer, also known as peptic ulcer, is a type of stomach ulcer that is formed in the upper lining of the small intestine and on the inner lining of the stomach. Usually, it is caused due to the inflammation instigated by the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, which causes stomach inflammation. Also, the erosion caused by the acids in the stomach also results in stomach inflammation. Although a common health issue, gastric ulcers should not be left unattended and need immediate medical diagnosis and treatment to avoid any unforeseen health condition.
Let us take a closer look at the signs and symptoms, causes, and possible treatments of gastric ulcers.
Symptoms of a gastric ulcer
Some of the warning signs and symptoms of gastric ulcers include:
- Bloating or feeling of fullness
- Burning stomach ache
- Intolerance to fatty food
One of the main signs of a gastric ulcer is a persistent burning stomach ache, which is worsened by the stomach acid. The stomach ache can be relieved by consuming certain types of foods that help in cushioning the stomach acid. On the other hand, one can also take acid-reducing medications, but the stomach pain may come back. Moreover, in some of the cases, the stomach ache gets worse during the time between meals and at night. However, it has been also noticed that around three-quarters of people with gastric ulcers do not experience any signs of the same.
In some of the rare instances, gastric ulcers may have severe symptoms that include:
- Trouble breathing
- Loss of appetite or change in appetite
- Vomiting blood that may appear black or red
- Dark or bloody stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chest pain
Causes of a gastric ulcer
The breakdown of the inner lining of the stomach, small intestines, and the esophagus can be caused by a number of reasons. Some of the causes include:
- H. pylori, a bacteria type that causes stomach inflammation and infection
- Excessive smoking
- Frequent consumption of anti-inflammatory medications
- Too much intake of alcohol
- Stomach cancer
- Radiation therapy
Treatments for gastric ulcers
The treatment for gastric or peptic ulcers depends from case to case and also the cause. Most of the ulcers get treated using the medications prescribed by the doctor. Some of the treatments include:
Surgical treatments– In very rare cases, gastric ulcers will require surgery. The surgery may involve tying the bleeding artery, removal of the ulcer entirely, or patching a tissue taken from another part of the intestine on the ulcer site.
Nonsurgical treatments– Medications may be prescribed by the doctor for treating ulcers caused by H. pylori. Along with these medications, the doctor may also prescribe acid blockers.
A balanced, wholesome diet– One of the best ways to keep gastric ulcers at bay is to have a balanced diet and not including anything in your diet that may trigger inflammation. Foods such as leafy greens, broccoli, apples, olive oil, raspberries, to name a few fight off H. pylori.
When should you see a doctor?
It is always advisable to seek medical help immediately after a person experiences one or more of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms. The doctor would examine the correct cause of the symptoms and provide medications accordingly. One can also see the doctor once the stomach pain returns even after taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications for stomach ache relief.