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Everything you need to know about stomach ulcers.

Stomach ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach or small intestines. They occur when protective mucus that lines the stomach becomes ineffective.

The stomach produces a strong acid to help in digestion and protect against microbes.

Some ulcers are easy to cure, but can cause significant problems if uncured. 

Also known as Gastric ulcers.

Symptoms.

1. Bloating. This means your stomach swells because your stomach is full of gas or air.

2. Retching. Also known as heaving. This means sounding and looking as though you are about to be sick (vomit) but not necessarily vomiting.

3. Feeling sick(nausea).

4. Vomiting.

5. Feeling very full after a meal.

6. Acid reflux.

7. Dark, tarry stool.

PHOTO – COURTESY

Causes of stomach ulcers.

1. Infection with bacterium Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori).

2. Long term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDS) e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen.

3. Heavy alcohol use.

4. Psychological stress.

5. Smoking.

Diagnosis of stomach ulcers.

1. Laboratory test for H. Pylori.

Your doctor may recommend tests to determine whether the bacterium H. Pylori is present in your body.

2. Endoscopy.

Your doctor may use an endoscope to examine your upper digestive system.

3. Upper gastrointestinal series.

Sometimes called a barium swallow. This series of X-rays your upper digestive system creates images of your esophagus, stomach and small intestines. During the x ray you swallow a white liquid containing barium.

Treatment.

Proton pump inhibitor (PPI)

Works by reducing acid in your stomach. Usually prescribed for 4-8 weeks.

H2 receptor antagonist.

Reviewing NSAID use.

You may be advised to use an alternative painkiller not associated with ulcers e.g. paracetamol.

Surgery.

If you have a serious ulcer that keeps returning and doesn’t get better with medication surgery is advised.

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