Signs and Causes of Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers, also known as gastric ulcers, are painful sores that develop in the lining of the stomach lining. When the protective layer of mucus that lines your stomach is reduced, it allows your digestive acids to eat away at the tissues of the stomach wall, leading to an ulcer.
Causes of Stomach Ulcers
The most common causes of stomach ulcers include infection with the H. pylori bacterium; as well as long-term use of aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In very rare cases, a condition known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome can cause a stomach ulcer, as it increases the body’s production of acid.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Stomach Ulcers?
There are many signs of ulcers in stomach tissue. Warning signs of stomach ulcers can vary in their severity depending on the severity of the ulcer, but the most common signs of a stomach ulcer include:
- Burning sensation or pain in the abdomen, especially one that feels more intense on an empty stomach
- Avoiding eating because of stomach pain
- Dull pain in the stomach
- Feeling full easily
- Acid reflux
- Weight loss
- Dark colored stools
If you have any of these warning signs of a stomach ulcer it is important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. If ulcers aren’t treated, they can get worse. Bleeding ulcers can even be life-threatening. So, it is best to get a health professionals advice if you are concerned about having an ulcer.
Signs of Bleeding Ulcers in Stomach
If you have an ulcer that is bleeding heavily, it may cause:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Dark colored stool that is black and sticky.
- Dark red or maroon colored blood in your stool.
- Bloody vomit with a grainy consistency.
If you have any of these signs seek medical attention immediately.
How Do You Treat Stomach Ulcers?
If you have a stomach ulcer, your doctor will likely give you a prescription of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors, which block the stomach cells that produce acid. The antibiotics will kill the H. pylori bacterium, and the proton pump inhibitors will prevent the production of the acid that is causing the ulcers.
In addition to these prescriptions, your doctor will likely recommend you stop the use of all NSAIDS. They will likely also recommend you supplement with a good multi-strain probiotic during or after the antibiotic treatment to replenish the gut microbiome with good bacteria.
The exact treatment, however, will vary depending on what caused your ulcer. In rare cases, surgical treatment may be required. During surgery, a surgeon may remove an entire ulcer, take tissue from another part of the intestines to patch over the ulcer, tie off a bleeding artery or cut the nerve supply to the stomach to reduce acid production.
If you have a bleeding ulcer, you may also need a blood transfusion.
As you can see, ulcers are not something to take lightly. Though initially they may seem like a minor issue, if they are untreated they can get worse. It is best to treat them as soon as possible. It is also recommended to do your best to protect your gut health. If you have a healthy gut, your gut microbiome can fight off ulcer-causing H. pylori bacteria, and can also keep your inflammation levels low. Avoiding NSAIDs (unless absolutely necessary) is also important, as they can contribute to ulcers.
Like most health issues, prevention is easier than treatment. Stay on top of your gut health, take care of your gut microbiome, and protect your gut from toxins and NSAIDs—this is the best way to prevent getting a stomach ulcer.