Ulcers are basically sores that develop in the lining of the digestive tract. These sores are spots where the stomach’s or intestine's lining has been eaten away by stomach acid and digestive juices. Ulcers typically heal and recur.
In general, the names of the ulcers specify where they are found. An ulcer in the part of the small intestine called the duodenum is known as a duodenal ulcer, while a stomach ulcer is commonly referred to as a peptic ulcer. Symptoms will depend on where the ulcer is located and can vary widely. Some people may have no symptoms while others experience an intermittent burning and gnawing sensation along with feeling empty and hungry.
Just as there are different types of ulcers, there are also different mechanisms that can cause them. Here are some factors that can contribute to ulcer development:
Stomach ulcers are painful sores that can be found in the stomach lining or small intestine. Stomach ulcers are the most visible sign of peptic ulcer disease. They occur when the thick layer of mucus that protects your stomach from digestive juices is reduced, thus enabling the digestive acids to eat away at the lining tissues of the stomach.
Stomach ulcers are easily cured, but they can become severe without proper treatment.
What Causes Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers aren’t necessarily caused by one single factor. The decrease in the stomach’s mucus lining that leads to an ulcer is usually caused by one of the following:
· an infection with the bacterium ( )
· long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen
· excess acid (hyperacidity) in the stomach, which may be related to genetics, lifestyle (stress, smoking), and certain foods
· Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, a rare disease that makes the body produce excess stomach acid
Certain factors and behaviors can put you at higher risk for developing stomach ulcers:
· frequent use of steroids (such as those for treating asthma)
· hypercalcemia (overproduction of calcium)
· family history of stomach ulcers
· being over 50 years old
· excessive consumption of alcohol
A number of symptoms are associated with stomach ulcers. The severity of the symptoms depends on the severity of the ulcer.
The most common symptom is a burning sensation or pain in the area between your chest and belly button. Normally, the pain will be more intense when your stomach is empty and it can last for a few minutes or several hours.
Other common symptoms include:
· dull pain in the stomach
· weight loss
· not wanting to eat because of pain
· nausea or vomiting
· burping or acid reflux
· heartburn (burning sensation in the chest)
· pain improves when you eat, drink, or take antacids
Talk to your doctor if you experience symptoms of a stomach ulcer. Even though discomfort may be mild, ulcers can worsen if they aren’t treated.
How Are Stomach Ulcers Diagnosed?
Diagnosis and treatment will depend on your symptoms and the severity of your ulcer. To diagnose a stomach ulcer, your doctor will review your medical history along with your symptoms and any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking.
To rule out infection, a blood, stool, or breath test may be ordered. In a breath test, you’ll be instructed to drink a clear liquid and breathe into a bag, which is then sealed. If is present, the breath sample will contain higher-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide.
Other tests and procedures used to diagnose stomach ulcers include:
· : a thick white liquid (barium) that you drink helps the stomach and small intestine show up on X-rays
· : a thin, lighted tube is inserted through the mouth and into the stomach to look for the presence of an ulcer
· : a piece of stomach tissue is removed so it can be analyzedAn ulcer is a discontinuity or break in a bodily membrane that impedes the organ of which that membrane is a part from continuing its normal functions. Common forms of ulcers recognized in medicine include:
The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is a burning or gnawing pain that develops in your abdomen (tummy).
However, some stomach ulcers aren't painful and are only noticed when acomplication of a stomach ulcer develops, such as bleeding from the ulcer.
The pain caused by a stomach ulcer can travel out from the middle of your tummy up to your neck, down to your belly button, or through to your back.
It can last from a few minutes to a few hours and often starts within a few hours of eating. You may also wake up in pain during the night.
Taking antacids (indigestion medication) may relieve the pain temporarily, but it will keep coming back if the ulcer isn't treated.
Less common symptoms of a stomach ulcer can include:
Some people also find they burp or become bloated after eating fatty foods.
Visit your GP if you experience persistent symptoms of a stomach ulcer.
Contact your GP or NHS 111 immediately, or go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department, if you develop signs of a serious complication, including:
Mouth ulcers are painful sores that appear in the mouth. Although they're uncomfortable, they’re usually harmless and most clear up by themselves within a week or two.
Mouth ulcers are common and can usually be managed at home, without seeing your dentist or GP. Visit your pharmacist first, unless your ulcer has lasted longer than three weeks.
Mouth ulcers are usually round or oval sores that commonly appear inside the mouth on the:
They can be white, red, yellow or grey in colour and swollen.
It's possible to have more than one mouth ulcer at a time and they may spread or grow.
Mouth ulcers shouldn't be confused with cold sores, which are small blisters that develop on the lips or around the mouth. Cold sores often begin with a tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth.
Mouth ulcers can be painful, which can make it uncomfortable to eat, drink or brush your teeth.
It's usually safe to treat mouth ulcers at home. See your GP or dentist if: