How Do I Know If I Have a Stomach Ulcer?

Stomach UlcerIf you have a burning pain in your stomach – it may be due to a stomach ulcer. Since stomach ulcers can lead to complications without treatment, it is important for you to be able to tell if you might have this condition.

Causes of Stomach Ulcers

Stomach ulcers are sores that occur inside your stomach lining. The sores may appear if the layer of mucus that protects your stomach lining from stomach acid is reduced. You can also develop ulcers if you have a higher amount of stomach acid than usual. Stomach ulcers can occur for the following reasons:

  • Taking too much aspirin & another non-prescription/prescription pain medicine over a long period of time
  • Having an infection of Helicobacter pylori bacteria (H. pylori), which can also lead to stomach inflammation
  • Having risk factors that increase your chance of having stomach ulcers, such as being a smoker, drinking alcohol, eating spicy foods, or dealing with chronic stress

Symptoms of Stomach Ulcers

Having burning pain in your stomach is one of the most common signs of stomach ulcers. This pain can feel more severe before bedtime or between your meals. You might also have other symptoms with these ulcers, such as the following:

  • Bloating
  • Feeling fullness in your stomach
  • Belching
  • Trouble tolerating fatty foods
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea

In some cases, stomach ulcers can cause symptoms that are more serious. Some of these include vomiting blood, dark stools, and difficulty breathing. You might also have changes in your appetite or weight loss that occurs without explanation. Whether you have mild or severe symptoms of stomach ulcers, it’s important for you to seek medical care. This helps ensure that you receive a prompt diagnosis and treatment if needed.

Complications of Stomach Ulcers

When you have stomach ulcers that aren’t treated, you’re at risk of developing complications. These complications can include infection that spreads to your abdominal cavity, internal bleeding, and blockages in your digestive tract. Making sure that you undergo treatment for stomach ulcers helps lower your risk of developing these complications.

Treatments for Stomach Ulcers

When you have stomach ulcers, the treatment you need depends on what is causing them. Some treatment options include taking medication that reduces acid production, taking medications that support healing ulcers and taking medication that kills H. pylori bacteria. You might also benefit from taking medications that neutralize stomach acid or provide your stomach lining with protection from stomach acid. Your doctor might also discuss switching pain medication to one that isn’t associated with a higher risk of developing stomach ulcers. Keep in mind that serious complications from stomach ulcers might require surgery.

Preventing Stomach Ulcers

There are a few steps you can take to prevent stomach ulcers – including:

  • Be cautious when using pain medications. Take low doses, take these medications with meals and talk to your doctor about taking other medications that can help reduce your risk of developing ulcers
  • Wash your hands often and make sure to eat foods that are thoroughly cooked to lower your risk of H. pylori infections
  • Avoid spicy foods, drinking alcohol and smoking
  • Keep stress under control

If you have symptoms of a stomach ulcer, please contact Anthony S. Borcich, MD PC to schedule an appointment. Dr. Borcich can evaluate your symptoms and run tests to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and discuss treatment options.

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