Stomach ulcers are also called gastric ulcers. When the ulcer is located in the stomach, it is known as gastric ulcer. When the ulcer is located at the duodenum, it is known as a duodenal ulcer. Both gastric and duodenal ulcer is classified as peptic ulcer disease. An ulcer is a lining defect that extends up to the muscle layer. This condition is due to acid action that causes erosion. Peptic ulcer disease may cause death and the treatment can be costly in the advanced stage. Peptic ulcer disease has a small chance of heal on its own or most of the time progress to cause many complications like perforation. Stomach ulcers can cause gas and bloat as part of the symptoms. Stomach ulcer treatments are proven effective in curing and removing all unpleasant symptoms.
Patients with peptic ulcer disease are most likely to be asymptomatic. 70% of patients have no symptoms. If there are symptoms, the first signs and symptoms that will take place is abdominal pain. Other features are nausea, bloating, vomiting, fullness, early satiety, and features due to complications like bleeding.
There are two main causes of stomach ulcers or peptic ulcer disease. They are Helicobacter pylori infection and the use of Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). If a patient has both at a time, the risk for bleeding is high. Helicobacter pylori infection will cause an increase in stomach acid production and secretion. It also disrupts the defence mechanism that exists on the lining of the stomach and duodenum. However, the case of Helicobacter pylori has been decreasing for many years and this is because of improved hygiene among the population. Decreased childhood transmission also helps bring down the figure.
Patients who are using NSAIDs are four times at risk of developing peptic ulcer disease or stomach ulcers compared to those who are not taking NSAIDs. Other than NSAIDs use and Helicobacter pylori infection, there are also other rare causes of peptic ulcer disease or stomach ulcers like viral infections and gastrinoma. Most of the time, NSAIDs use and Helicobacter pylori infection alone will not cause ulcer formation. The presence of other risk factors on top of NSAIDs use and Helicobacter pylori infection are the exact culprit to ulcer formation.
The risk factors for stomach and duodenal ulcers are:
- High alcohol intake
- Genetic factors
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Social or work stress
- Diet (high fat intake)
The initial treatments for stomach or duodenal ulcers are get rid of Helicobacter pylori, stop the use of Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), and treat all the unclear or rare causes. Antibiotics are the mainstay for the eradication of Helicobacter pylori. The examples of antibiotics are clarithromycin, metronidazole, and levofloxacin. Not just NSAIDs, aspirin should also be discontinued in patients with stomach or duodenal ulcers. Next is the initiation of acid secretion inhibitors like the use of proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole.
Many tests and investigations need to be done to confirm the diagnosis of a stomach or duodenal ulcer. One important test that can visualize the ulcers is an endoscope. The introduction of a small camera to visualize the linings of the stomach and duodenum helps diagnose and treat this condition. You may relief from the pain of a stomach ulcer by taking and adhere to the treatment given.