Stomach ulcers are sometimes called peptic or gastric ulcers. The primary symptom is heartburn or burning pain in the stomach and other parts of the digestive system. Many people report that the pain is worse at night and when the stomach is empty. In extreme cases, blood may appear in vomit or stool. Ulcers can cause reduced appetite and unexpected weight loss.
What Causes Stomach Ulcers?
These ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach and duodenum that occur when there is an imbalance in the acidity of natural digestive fluids. The most common cause of peptic ulcers is a bacterial infection, helicobacter pylori. Many things can upset the balance of stomach acidity or irritate the stomach lining, leading to ulcers. Common triggers include over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen; tobacco use; excessive alcohol use; and stress. Certain illnesses and prescription medications can cause stomach ulcers as well. Ulcers may run in families and are more common in people over age 50.
How Can I Prevent Stomach Ulcer Pain?
Finding and treating the cause of your ulcer is the best way to eliminate peptic ulcer pain. Your doctor may first prescribe an acid-blocking medication or try elimination techniques to isolate the trigger for your ulcers. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or regularly take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stopping these behaviors may end your ulcer pain. If none of these triggers is the cause of your peptic ulcer pain, your doctor may prescribe a medication called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), which balances stomach acidity and allows the ulcer to heal. If the ulcer is caused by H. pylori bacterial infection, antibiotics will be part of your treatment plan. In the case of bleeding ulcers, upper endoscopy or surgery may be required.
To learn more about treating and preventing stomach ulcers, please call (972) 301-7060.