By Dr. Kunal Das, Gastroenterology
Stomach ulcers are sores that develop in the stomach lining and the small intestine. They tend to form when the digestive juices in the stomach start to corrode the tissues of the stomach. A stomach ulcer is usually diagnosed using an endoscope, a fiber optic tube that is inserted into the throat. This device helps in viewing and identifying the ulcer.
Stomach ulcers are easily cured, but they can become severe without proper treatment.
Certain factors and behaviors can put you at higher risk of developing stomach ulcers:
- smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol
- frequent use of drugs like steroids, aspirin, painkillers
- hypercalcemia (overproduction of calcium)
- family history of stomach ulcers
- being over 50 years old
- certain cancers like Zollinger Ellison’s syndrome
- infection with bacterium
Symptoms of Stomach Ulcers-
The most common symptom is a burning sensation or pain in the area between your chest and belly button. Normally, the pain will be more intense when your stomach is empty and it can last for a few minutes or several hours.
Other common symptoms include:
- Dull pain in the stomach
- Weight loss
- Not wanting to eat because of pain
- Nausea or vomiting, bloating
- Blood vomiting or black stools (malena)
- Burping or acid reflux
- Heartburn (burning sensation in the chest)
- Pain improves when you eat, drink, or take antacids ..
Talk to your doctor if you experience symptoms of a stomach ulcer. Even though discomfort may be mild, ulcers can worsen if they aren’t treated.
- Once the disorder has been diagnosed, the treatments are prescribed. For mild ulcers, medications are prescribed depending on the cause. For example – if the cause of the ulcer is a bacterial infection, then it can be treated with antibiotics. If medications do not help, then surgery may be required.
- Initially, antacids may be administered that help in reducing the pain, but this measure only provides temporary relief. The aim of ulcer treatment is to reduce the quantity of acid in the stomach and strengthen the stomach lining. If the ulcer is due to a bacterial infection, then a triple therapy is generally used to treat the ulcer.
What is the Triple Therapy?
The triple therapy is a combination of antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor that is used in the treatment of ulcer. If medications fail to work, then surgical treatment may be required. In case of ulcer hemorrhage, the source is identified and then treated accordingly. Surgery can also help in reducing excess acid secretion by the stomach. Avoid intake of too much iron supplements as it can cause irritation to the stomach lining.