Understanding Ulcers

A stomach ulcer, sometimes referred to as a gastric ulcer, occurs when the acids in the stomach slowly eat away at the lining of the stomach resulting in sores. They can be very painful in some cases, and at other times some people will have no symptoms at all.

There are two main causes of stomach ulcers. One is taking too many pain relievers over a long period of time. This slowly destroys the mucosa lining found in the stomach. The other main cause of a stomach ulcer is caused by a bacteria called Heliobacter pylori ( H. pylori) . This bacteria increases the amount of acid in the stomach which eats away at the stomach lining. Other causes of stomach ulcers are smoking, alcoholic beverages, stress, and spicy food.

Symptoms of a stomach ulcer include:

  • Burping
  • Feeling bloated
  • Nausea
  • Blood in stool
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Change in appetite

Having an empty stomach may increase the symptoms.

A stomach ulcer may be accompanied by complications. These can include internal bleeding and infection.

Diagnosing a stomach ulcer is done by taking a thorough medical history and then drawing blood, breathing into a special device, and stool samples.

Treating a stomach ulcer depends on what is causing it. If it is a pain medication issue, then you may have to cut back or reduce the dosage. If it is H. pylori related an antibiotic may be prescribed and then medication to reduce the production of excess stomach acids. Some people get relief by taking antacids or medications that protect the lining of the stomach. Reducing stress may help the symptoms as can eating a healthy diet full of fruits, nuts, and whole grains, eating aged cheese, yogurt, and taking probiotics.

If you are experiencing pain in your abdomen, speak to your physician about possible causes. You can also schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center by calling 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.