One to six percent of adult Americans experience the pain and nausea of stomach ulcers at some point in their lives. Also known as peptic ulcers, these acquired wounds develop within the stomach and duodenum, the section of the small intestine directly below the stomach. What follows here are the causes of peptic ulcers and how a stomach specialist can treat and help heal them.
What Causes Stomach Ulcers?
Contrary to popular belief, stress and anxiety do not cause stomach ulcers. In fact, there are a number of causative factors which combine to produce the pain, nausea, upper GI bleeding, bloating and gas characteristic of this digestive problem.
The possible causes of peptic ulcers include:
- Infection with H. pylori bacteria
- Overuse of NSAIDs, anti-inflammatory drugs used to control fever, pain and degenerative musculoskeletal diseases, such as arthritis
- Use of antidepressants and certain other prescription medications
Additionally, many acute and chronic health conditions can contribute to the development of stomach ulcers. These include:
- Crohn’s disease
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
While many peptic ulcers heal by themselves with no special medical intervention whatsoever, some linger and even worsen so much that people may go into shock. These very serious stomach ulcers cause:
- Tachycardia, or rapid heart rate
- Sharp pain below the breastbone
- Tarry (black) or red stools
How Does a GI Specialist Detect Ulcers?
Anyone experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms such as those outlined in this blog should visit an experienced gastroenterologist for a physical examination and specialized testing. The GI doctor may order a blood test and imaging assessments (upper endoscopy) to view what’s happening inside the esophagus and stomach.
Also, your gastroenterologist may use an assessment known as a urea breath test. In this simple test, the patient breathes into a collection bag and then consumes a pill or beverage containing a radioactive tracer. The patient breathes into a second collection bag, and the level of carbon dioxide in the bag is measured. Certain levels of carbon dioxide indicate peptic ulcers.
Finally, your health history and symptoms help your gastroenterologist pinpoint the correct diagnosis. So, be sure to tell the doctor about each of your symptoms, its severity and location and what may help or worsen it.
What Are My Treatment Options for My Stomach Ulcers?
Many people with stomach ulcers respond well to medications known as proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers. That being said, it is critical to get to the source of peptic ulcer symptoms and manage them for long-term relief.
For example, antibiotics help eliminate H. pylori bacteria. Also, people should modify their diets to reduce spicy, fatty foods. Smoking cessation and stopping all NSAIDs are very important, too.
Your GI care plan will be carefully crafted by your gastroenterologist so your stomach heals well and you experience no return of symptoms.
Exceptional GI Care From Your Stomach Specialists at inSite Digestive Health Care
At inSite Digestive Health Care in the state of California, our 65 board-certified specialists understand the many diseases and conditions of the digestive tract. If you suspect you have an ulcer or another condition, please don’t wait. Contact the location of inSite Digestive Health Care nearest you and arrange an appointment. We have 30 offices for your convenience.