What Should I Do If I Suspect Indigestion Or A Stomach Ulcer
The first step you should take if you think you may have chronic indigestion or a stomach ulcer is make an appointment with Prima Medicine. Our goal is to provide you with relief from the unpleasant symptoms that both conditions can cause as well as keep you healthy by working to prevent further complications.
To arrive at a diagnosis, your Prima Medicine team member will evaluate your medical history and symptoms and conduct a comprehensive physical exam. Your provider may also order a stool test, breath test, and blood work.
Your provider may also order an endoscopy, in which a flexible tube is inserted through your throat, down your esophagus, and into your stomach to take images and samples. Once your diagnosis is confirmed, your Prima Medicine provider will work with you to create a customized plan to treat your indigestion or ulcer issues.
If youre suffering from chronic indigestion or the symptoms of a stomach ulcer, we can help get you well. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today. We can also schedule telehealth appointments.
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Diagnosis Of A Stomach Ulcer
Diagnosing a stomach ulcer is done using a range of methods, including:
- Endoscopy a thin flexible tube is threaded down the oesophagus into the stomach under light anaesthesia. The endoscope is fitted with a small camera so the physician can see if there is an ulcer.
- Barium meal a chalky liquid is drunk and an x-ray is performed, showing the stomach lining. These tests are less common nowadays, but may be useful where endoscopy is unavailable.
- Biopsy a small tissue sample is taken during an endoscopy and tested in a laboratory. This biopsy should always be done if a gastric ulcer is found.
- C14 breath test this checks for the presence of H. pylori. The bacteria convert urea into carbon dioxide. The test involves swallowing an amount of radioactive carbon and testing the air exhaled from the lungs. A non-radioactive test can be used for children and pregnant women.
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Increase Dietary Fiber And Fluid Intake
According to the PubMed Health, fiber can help to soften stool and make them easier to pass. This can help to ease digestive discomfort and prevent conditions like constipation that can lead to enlarged hemorrhoids. It was reported that increased fiber in the diet also reduces the frequency of rectal bleeding and bloody stools.17
Always increase fiber slowly to prevent uncomfortable side effects, such as gas and bloating, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
For more information on how to increase dietary fiber in your diet and alleviate many digestive conditions, please read my articles about the best foods to cleanse your colon and how to effectively cleanse your colon with only 2 ingredients.
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Culprit: Constipation Or Diverticulitis
Signs: Chronic constipation causes hard stools and strained bowel movements. Over time, it can lead to diverticulosis, which can be thought of as pockets or balloons that tend to develop in the lower part of the large intestine. These can sometimes become inflamed .
Who: Diverticulosis usually occurs after age 50 and in patients with a history of chronic constipation and straining. We are seeing it in younger and younger patients with low-fiber, highly refined diets as well as rising rates of obesity. Low- fiber diets, medications and sedentary lifestyles may all contribute to constipation.
Take Action: Your primary care doctor or pharmacist can suggest diet/lifestyle modifications. Weight loss, exercise, drinking more fluids and eating a diet higher in fiber and lower in fat also help. Over-the-counter laxatives can be used for mild symptoms.
Head to the emergency room if pain and vomiting become relentless, fevers exceed 100.4 degrees or youre unable to drink water or have bowel movements. Fevers with left lower quadrant abdominal pain, especially in a patient with known constipation, may indicate diverticulitis. Extreme discomfort in the left quadrant that spreads to the entire belly is worrisome and requires immediate care.
Patients over 4550 years of age who present with new-onset, unexplained constipation should talk to their primary care physician about getting a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer.
How Soon After Treatment Will I Feel Better
If you take all medicines as prescribed and avoid irritating the ulcer with NSAIDs, alcohol or smoking, your ulcer should heal well within a few weeks. Surgical cases may take a few weeks more. Your healthcare provider will follow up with you at the end of your course of medication to make sure the ulcer has healed and any infection has cleared. They will probably take follow-up tests, including an upper endoscopy to look at the site of the ulcer and tests for H. pylori, if you had it, to make sure the infection is gone.
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How Do You Treat Ulcers
There are a few things that you can do to relieve the symptoms of stomach ulcers. Avoiding spicy and fatty foods, managing stress, using over-the-counter antacids, and stopping the use of NSAIDs may provide relief. Your doctor may treat your peptic ulcer by prescribing antibiotics, or medications to block or reduce acid production.
Its important to know when you should seek care for stomach pain. Persistent abdominal pain that does not go away can indicate an underlying health problem.
Talk to your doctor if you experience frequent abdominal pain, or abdominal pain that does not go away, if you feel faint or have trouble breathing with abdominal pain, or if you have blood in your vomit or stool.
Your primary care doctor can help determine the best action to take, which may include a referral to a gastroenterologist: a physician that specializes in diagnosing and treating digestive diseases.
If Your Ulcer Was Caused By Helicobacter Pylori
Most stomach ulcers are caused by infection with H. pylori. Therefore, a main part of the treatment is to clear this infection. If this infection is not cleared, the ulcer is likely to return once you stop taking acid-suppressing medication. For more information, see the separate leaflet called Helicobacter Pylori.
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What Tests Diagnose A Peptic Ulcer
To confirm a person has an ulcer a diagnostic imaging test will usually be ordered. The two most widely used tests are:
- Upper GI series : This is a type of X-ray. The patient is given a chalky liquid to drink that increases the contrast on the X-ray, making certain features easier to see. Because this liquid contains barium, this test is sometimes called a barium swallow.
- Endoscopy : An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera at the end. The patient is given a mild sedative, and then the tube is passed through the mouth into the stomach. The doctor can see the lining of the stomach to diagnose a peptic ulcer. Tiny samples of the tissue will be taken , which are examined under a microscope.
If a diagnostic imaging test reveals an ulcer, the patient will most likely have a test to see if H pylori bacteria are present.
- It is important to be certain about this, because treatment of the H pylori is likely to heal the ulcer.
- Ulcers caused by H pylori are treated differently than ulcers caused by medications.
Three types of tests are available to detect H pylori.
Common Causes Of Abdominal And Back Pain
Abdominal and back pain occurring together can beindicative of:
- Disease or injury to thepart of the gut that sits deep inside the abdomen, like the duodenum
- Disease of the stomach, gallbladder and pancreas
- Injury or disease in one of the large bloodvessels that runs deep through the abdomen, like the abdominal aorta
- Problems with the kidney or one of the tubes that runs from the kidney
- Disease, injury or infection affecting the urinary bladder
- Injury, disease orinfection of the reproductive organs like the ovaries ,uterus , andtesticles
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Is Your Persistent Stomach Pain An Ulcer
Digestive Health, Gastroenterology
Its normal to have a stomachache every now and then. Maybe you ate something that isnt agreeing with you or youre having a stressful day. These run-of-the-mill pains usually resolve on their own or with basic treatment.
But if you experience daily abdominal pain, or pain that comes and goes frequently, you could have a more serious problem, such as a peptic ulcer.
UNC Rex Digestive Healthcare gastroenterologist Silpa Yalamanchili, MD, explains how peptic ulcers can develop and how to find relief.
What Tests Are There For A Stomach Ulcer
If your doctor thinks you may have a stomach ulcer, the initial tests will include some blood tests. These tests will help to check whether you have become anaemic because of any bleeding from the ulcer. The blood test will also check to see that your liver and pancreas are working properly.
The main tests that are then used to diagnose a stomach ulcer are as follows:
- A test to detect the H. pylori germ is usually done if you have a stomach ulcer. The H. pylori bacterium can be detected in a sample of stool , or in a ‘breath test’, or from a blood test, or from a biopsy sample taken during a gastroscopy. See the separate leaflet called Helicobacter Pylori for more details.
- Gastroscopy is the test that can confirm a stomach ulcer. Gastroscopy is usually done as an outpatient ‘day case’. You may be given a sedative to help you to relax. In this test, a doctor looks inside your stomach by passing a thin, flexible telescope down your gullet . The doctor will then be able to see any inflammation or ulcers in your stomach.
- Small samples are usually taken of the tissue in and around the ulcer during gastroscopy. These are sent to the laboratory to be looked at under the microscope. This is important because some ulcers are caused by stomach cancer. However, most stomach ulcers are not caused by cancer.
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What Are The Complications Of Peptic Ulcers
With modern treatment, people with ulcer disease can lead normal lives without lifestyle changes or dietary restrictions. Cigarettesmokers have been found to have more complications from ulcers and treatment failure.
Eradication of the bacteria H. pylori not only heals ulcers but also prevents the recurrence of ulcer disease.
Patients with ulcers generally function quite comfortably.
Some ulcers probably heal even without medications . Therefore, the major problems resulting from ulcers are related to ulcer complications. Complications include
- obstruction of emptying of the passage of food.
Patients with bleeding ulcers may report
- a sense of light-headedness or ay even pass out upon standing ,
- and vomiting blood . Initial treatment involves rapid replacement of fluids intravenously.
Patients with persistent or severe bleeding may require blood transfusions. An endoscopy is performed to establish the site of bleeding and to stop active ulcer bleeding with the aid of specialized endoscopic instruments.
Duodenum A peptic ulcer that forms in the narrow outlet from the stomach, it can obstruct the flow of stomach contents into the duodenum. Duodenal ulcers sometimes also may obstruct the flow of intestinal contents.
Patients with obstruction often report
What Is The Prognosis For People With Gastritis
Most cases of gastritis improve quickly with treatment. For most people, medications relieve gastritis. Your healthcare provider will recommend the most appropriate treatment based on whats causing gastritis. Antacids reduce stomach acid, while antibiotics clear up bacterial infections. You can also make changes like reducing your alcohol consumption and managing pain without NSAIDs.
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You Have Heartburn At Most Meals
If you find yourself experiencing frequent heartburn, regardless of what you eat, an ulcer may be responsible. Many patients with ulcers describe feeling very intense chest pain, which often causes them to burp or hiccup more than usual after eating. In many cases, a simple over-the-counter antacid can be taken to temporarily alleviate some of the pain and gassiness, but if it persists day after day, its likely something more than a regular case of heartburn.
When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider
See your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms:
- Vomiting blood or dark material that looks like coffee grounds
- Extreme weakness or dizziness
- Nausea or vomiting that doesnt get better, or gets worse
- A sudden, severe pain that may spread to your back
- Losing weight without even trying
Untreated peptic ulcers may cause other health problems. Sometimes they bleed. If they become too deep, they can break through your stomach.
Ulcers can also keep food from going through your stomach.
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Nsaids And Stomach Ulcers
NSAIDs carry a risk of stomach ulcers. The two most popular NSAIDs are aspirin and ibuprofen.
The risk of ulcers increases if the drugs are taken in high doses or regularly for a long time.
Stronger NSAIDs, such as those available on prescription, carry a greater risk of stomach ulcers than those that people can buy over the counter.
A person should always check labels and consult a pharmacist or a doctor about any concerns regarding using pain relief medication. They may recommend an alternative, such as acetaminophen.
Fast Facts On Stomach Ulcers
- Stomach ulcers are common in the West and easy to treat but can become serious.
- The most common causes are bacteria and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
- The classic symptom of a stomach ulcer is indigestion.
- Treatment for stomach ulcers normally focuses on removing the cause.
The classic symptom of a stomach ulcer is indigestion, also called dyspepsia.
Indigestion causes pain or discomfort in the stomach area. This symptom can be mistaken for heartburn, which can occur at the same time.
Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease may cause heartburn. It occurs slightly higher up from the stomach, and people will feel it in the lower part of the chest.
Stomach ulcer symptoms tend to be more distinct than heartburn, but symptoms can still be vague.
An ulcer also tends to produce a burning or dull pain in the center of the abdomen. People sometimes describe the pain as a biting or gnawing pain. Some individuals may describe a hungry sensation.
Individuals may also be able to relieve pain by eating, drinking, or taking antacids.
Some stomach ulcers go unnoticed and show no typical indigestion-type pains. These ulcers are less common, and doctors tend them after they have started bleeding.
Some ulcers can cause a hole in the stomach wall. Health experts call this perforation, which is a severe condition.
Stomach ulcer symptoms often change over time and can be difficult to spot.
Dietary changes can help prevent stomach ulcers from developing.
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How Your Digestive System Processes Alcohol
Your stomach does not treat alcohol as it would a traditional nutrient found in food. Your body prioritizes eliminating alcohol from your system ahead of other vital nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Unlike traditional nutrients, alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. When ingested, alcohol can prevent your stomach from properly absorbing vital nutrients.
What Is The Cause Of Peptic Ulcers
When you eat, your stomach produces hydrochloric acid and an enzyme called pepsin to digest the food.
- The food is partially digested in the stomach and then moves on to the duodenum to continue the process.
- Peptic ulcers occur when the acid and enzyme overcome the defense mechanisms of the gastrointestinal tract and erode the mucosal wall.
In the past it was thought that ulcers were caused by lifestyle factors such as eating habits, cigarettesmoking, and stress.
- Now it is understood that people with ulcers have an imbalance between acid and pepsin coupled with the digestive tractâs inability to protect itself from these harsh substances.
- Research done in the 1980s showed that some ulcers are caused by infection with a bacterium named Helicobacter pylori, usually called H pylori.
- Not everyone who gets an ulcer is infected with H pylori. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause ulcers if taken regularly.
Some types of medical therapy can contribute to ulcer formation. The following factors can weaken the protective mucosal barrier of the stomach increasing the chances of getting an ulcer and slow the healing of existing ulcers.
- Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , and newer anti-inflammatory medications
- Radiation therapy:-used for diseases such as cancer
People who take aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medications are at an increased risk even if they do not have H pylori infection.
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What Are The Possible Complications Of Peptic Ulcer Disease
An ulcer left untreated may cause serious complications, including:
- Internal bleeding: While most people with ulcers wont have bleeding, this is the most common complication that can occur. A slow bleeding ulcer can cause anemia or even severe blood loss.
- Perforation: An ulcer that is continuously eroded by acid can eventually become a hole in the stomach or intestinal wall. This is intensely painful and also dangerous. It allows bacteria from the digestive tract to enter the abdominal cavity, which can lead to an infection of the abdominal cavity called peritonitis. From there, the infection is at risk of spreading to the rest of the body . This can lead to a life-threatening condition called .
- Obstruction: An ulcer in the pyloric channel, the narrow passageway that leads from the stomach into the duodenum, can become an obstruction that blocks the flow of food into the small intestine. This can happen after the ulcer has healed. Ulcers that have gone through a healing process may build up scar tissue that enlarges them. An ulcer that is big enough to obstruct the small intestine can stall the digestive process, with numerous side effects.
- Stomach cancer: Some gastric ulcers can become malignant over time. This is more likely when your ulcer is caused by H. pylori infection. H. pylori is a contributing cause of gastric cancer, though fortunately this is uncommon.