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Understanding Stomach ulcers

Understanding Stomach ulcers

An “ulcer” is an open sore. The origin of the word “peptic” has its root cause in acid. It means that the problems arise due to acid. Duodenal and gastric ulcers are the two most common types of peptic ulcers. Depending on the locations where these ulcers are found, the ulcers are named accordingly. Ulcers located in the stomach are called gastric ulcers. Duodenal ulcers are found at the beginning of the small intestine, also called the small bowel and the duodenum. It may be noted that a person can experience both gastric and duodenal ulcers simultaneously.


It is surprising to learn that many people with ulcers exhibit no symptoms at all. Some people with an ulcer may show epigastric pain. Such pain is often associated with the upper abdomen. Sometimes food intake can make the pain better, and sometimes it can even worsen it. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, or experiencing a sense of feeling full or just feeling bloated. It is essential to know that there are many reasons a person can experience abdominal pain, but that does not mean that all necessarily pertain to an ulcer.

Among the most important symptoms that pertain to ulcers are those related to bleeding. It is important to note that bleeding from an ulcer can slow down and go unnoticed. More importantly, it can also cause life-threatening bleeding. Slowly bleeding ulcers might not exhibit the symptoms until the person becomes anemic. Symptoms of anemia also include fatigue, pale skin color, and shortness of breath with exercise.

If bleeding occurs more rapidly, then melena might show up. Melena is jet black very sticky stool. Additionally, even a large amount of maroon, dark red blood in the stool may be present. There is a tendency among people with bleeding ulcers also to vomit. This vomit may look like “coffee grounds” or be red blood. Other symptoms can include feeling lightheaded or “passing out.” One should consider a medical emergency if there are symptoms of rapid bleeding. If this occurs, one should immediately seek medical attention. consult a doctor Dr. Aditya Shah a top Gastroenterologist in Chennai, if necessary, and get yourself treated!

Causes/Risk Factors

Helicobacter pylori and a group of medications known as NSAIDs are the two most important causes of ulcers are infection.

The bacterium that lives in the stomach of people experiencing abdominal ulcers and happens to be the cause of the same is Helicobacter pylori. It is also called H. pylori or simply “HP.” Understanding H. pylori and establishing its connection with the cause of ulcers was among the ground-breaking late 20th-century medical discoveries.

People having this bacterium were more at risk of developing peptic ulcers. Thus, it is not surprising that when a person is diagnosed with an ulcer, testing for H. pylori is often routinely done. Several tests need to be done to diagnose the presence of H. Pylori.

The treatment usually consists of taking either three or four drugs. A drug therapy uses acid suppression therapy in conjunction with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Often antibiotic therapy accompanies it, and sometimes a bismuth-containing agent as well. Curing H. pylori can be very tough. Thus, it is significant for people suffering from it to religiously take their dose of antibiotics as prescribed and complete the course. Besides, eating disorders like anorexia nervosa also cause stomach ulcers.

A group of medications typically used to treat pain is NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). A few of the many drugs in this group include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.

As paracetamol/acetaminophen is NOT an NSAID, it is the preferred treatment for pain for patients suffering from peptic ulcer disease.

NSAID use is a prevalent cause of peptic ulcers. How do NSAIDs cause ulcers? They do so by interrupting the natural ability of the duodenum and the stomach to protect themselves from stomach acid. Besides, NSAIDs can also be hindered by interfering with blood clotting when the ulcers bleed.

People who use NSAIDs for a long time, especially at high doses, tend to have a higher risk of developing ulcers. These people should discuss their various ailments and the possible options for preventing ulcers with their physicians.


The typical way to diagnose ulcers is through endoscopy. Other ways ulcers can be diagnosed are with the barium swallow or upper GI series.


Quitting tobacco products, saying no to smoking cigarettes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and eating a properly balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will help prevent the development of a peptic ulcer. Moreover, avoiding alcohol and limiting the use of painkillers, coupled with meditation and exercising, will keep peptic ulcers at bay! Of course, you can always consult a doctor Dr. Aditya Shah a top Gastroenterologist in Chennai, if necessary, and get yourself treated!

Dr Aditya Shah