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Definition

Stomach ulcers (also known as peptic ulcer disease) are painful sores which occur in the lining of the stomach or the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).

Symptoms

In a lot of cases, ulcers may not have symptoms at all, but most noticeable symptoms may include:

  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Severe pain in the abdomen between meals
  • Vomiting blood
  • Weight-loss
  • Dark or black stool

If you feel any of the above symptoms, consult your doctor immediately. While in most cases, stomach ulcers are easily treatable, if ignored they may cause serious risk to your health such as bleeding, perforation of the heart and/or gastric obstruction.

Risk Factors

You stand at a higher risk of stomach ulcers if you:

  • Take drugs such as ibuprofen, or naproxen
  • Have existing conditions of the liver, kidney or lungs
  • Consume alcohol excessively
  • Are infected with H. pylori bacterium
  • Are 50 or older
  • Have a history of stomach ulcers in the family

Diagnosis

Based on the aforementioned symptoms, if your doctor concludes you have stomach ulcers, he may first ask you to take acid blocking medication to see if the symptoms reduce.

If the symptoms persist, you may have to undergo a procedure called upper endoscopy.

Treatment

There are a number of ways to tackle ulcers. From making certain lifestyle adjustments to medication and surgery.

Lifestyle Adjustments: Try to a lead a healthier lifestyle by abstaining from unhealthy habits such as smoking or excessive drinking or consuming NSAIDs [painkillers] frequently.

Medication: Serious cases of ulcers can be treated by proton pump inhibitors (PPI). If you are diagnosed with H. Pylori infection, then antibiotics may be given accordingly.

Surgery and other medical procedures: To treat bleeding ulcers, an endoscopy might be necessary. If the stomach ulcer cannot be treated by an endoscopy, surgery may be necessary.

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