What is a gastric ulcer?
Also known as a peptic ulcer or stomach ulcer, a gastric ulcer is a wound that forms in the mucosal tissue lining the stomach or duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.
The most common symptom of this problem is called heartburn, which may appear between meals or at night and may last for several hours.
Prognosis of the gastric ulcer
It is a stomach disease with a fairly mild prognosis, which with treatment and a series of changes in consumption habits – balanced diet, giving up habits such as smoking, reducing the consumption of alcoholic beverages – should improve on its own with the passage of time and with appropriate medication.
Gastric ulcer symptoms
The symptomatology of gastric ulcer varies from person to person, as it can sometimes be asymptomatic, especially in the case of small ulcers. The so-called heartburn can be considered the most common symptom of peptic ulcer, and its effect can last from just a few minutes to several hours, being intermittent for several days or weeks.
Other common symptoms of peptic ulcer may include:
- Feeling of fullness
- Difficulty in swallowing fluids in usual quantity
- Hunger and a feeling of emptiness in the stomach after eating
- Stomach pain
Gastric ulcer may cause other symptoms, although they are less common:
- Gas and belching
- Lack of appetite
- Feeling of fatigue
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Blackish stools
Gastric ulcer screening tests
When the patient visits the specialist, he/she will ask him/her a series of questions about the symptoms he/she has suffered, as well as his/her medical history and a physical examination to check for swelling and pain in the stomach. Sounds inside the abdomen will also be listened to through a stethoscope.
The ulcer can be treated with medication, and after two weeks another test can be performed, as your condition should have improved.
In the event that the drugs do not help, the doctor may choose to perform an upper endoscopy, inserting a tube down the throat with a camera at the end to examine the condition of the stomach. A biopsy may also be performed.
Heartburn is the most common symptom of gastric ulcer.
What are the causes of gastric ulcer?
The gastric ulcer sore is formed when the stomach is exposed and vulnerable to its own acidity at a time of weak defenses. This can occur for various reasons:
- Medications have affected the defenses of the stomach wall lining.
- Infection caused by Helicobacter pylori
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, which causes irritation of the gastric mucosa.
In turn, the patient’s lifestyle may also be the cause of the ulcer. In fact, an unbalanced diet, rich in fats and sugars can aggravate the symptoms. Irritating foods such as caffeine, spices or pepper are also ulcer accelerators, aggravating the symptoms, causing the ulcer to progress and other gastric diseases, such as gastroesophageal reflux, to appear or worsen.
Can gastric ulcer be prevented?
Gastric ulcer is aggravated by smoking and alcohol. In fact, in the past it was thought that overeating and eating spicy foods led to ulcers. Today, it is known that stress is a triggering factor, and that smoking and excessive drinking contribute to the formation of ulcers.
It should be noted that a person can live with an ulcer, as most people heal for eight to ten weeks. With a balanced diet and giving up habits such as tobacco, coffee, alcohol, chocolates and the like, ulcers can be avoided. Avoid eating late at night is also positive.
Treatments for gastric ulcers
Various medications are available to treat gastric ulcers.
If H. Pyloru is the cause of the ulcer, the recommended treatment is known as triple therapy, a combination of antibiotics with bismuth subsalicylate.
Other drugs to neutralize stomach acidity and protect the mucosa of the stomach wall include:
- Proton pump inhibitors
- Histamine receptor blockers
- Stomach protectors
In the event that the use of anti-inflammatory drugs is the cause of the ulcer without the existence of H. Pylori bacteria, it may be necessary to reduce the number of drugs taken, stop taking them or opt for another type of analgesic.
Which specialist treats gastric ulcer?
The specialist in charge of treating gastric ulcers is the Digestive System Specialist.