An ulcer is defined as a canker or crater sore that usually penetrates the stomach or small intestines lining. A canker sore in the stomach is called a gastric ulcer while crater sore in the small intestines is called a duodenal ulcer. The most common causes of stomach and duodenal ulcer is a Helicobacter pylori infection and long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen.
Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) can also occur when there is an imbalance in the digestive juices produced such as hydrochloric acid and bicarbonate secretion from the pancreas. Such secretions damage the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT).
Other causes and risk factors include Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, smoking, genetics, steroid use, and alcoholism. The complications of PUD include stomach ulcers, intestinal perforations, intestinal bleeding, and peritonitis. Here are five of the most common manifestations of peptic ulcers.
Patients suspected of having ulcers present with a dull radiating pain. The pain is described as a burning sensation from the epigastric region, and it intensifies at night or in between meals because there is the release of gastric acid when there is no food in the stomach. According to the gastroenterologist Rusha Modi, the ulcers in the stomach are sores lining the GIT, causing pain when there is a secretion of gastric acid.
Some patients describe the pain as sharp and stabbing that is worsened by certain foods. The ulcer causes stomach irritation that can make you feel nauseous and sometimes the patient may present with a blood-stained vomit.
Heartburn and Regurgitation
PUD can cause heartburn and feeling of indigestion. Heartburn is a burning sensation and pain that radiates from the mid-abdomen near the sternum; thus, the pain is related to the anatomical position of the heart. Heartburn occurs when the excess digestive juices move up the esophagus.
The burning sensation might precipitate concurrently with swallowing difficulties and a bitter taste. Alcohol, chocolate, spicy food, and caffeinated beverages might make heartburn and abdominal pain worse. Muscle weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter can be attributed to being the primary cause of heartburn. Heartburn is an indicator of peptic ulcer disease.
Indigestion can cause gas pain that culminates in regurgitation such as burping or hiccups. Bloating and fullness manifest in stomach ulcers, especially after eating a fatty meal or legumes like beans. Bloating occurs due to the reaction between hydrochloric acid and foods that facilitates the production of carbon (IV) oxide gas. Bloating can be uncomfortable, and patients are advised to take demulsifying agents when they bloat.
For heartburn relief, you can take an anti-acid, proton pump inhibitors, antihistamines, or mucosal protective drugs. Heartburn relief contains alginate that improves the strength of the GIT mucosal barrier and promotes the regeneration of the gut cells for those suffering from occasional abdominal burning sensations.
Stomach ulcers cause weight loss, especially when the GIT lining is filled with sores that become irritated upon contact with gastric acid. Additionally, the ulcers cause pain when the food moves along the gastrointestinal tract. This results in inflammation in the GIT that can also cause contractions that might be strong enough to make you vomit. An ulcer can decrease your appetite leading to a sudden weight reduction.
Pain from the stomach ulcer can radiate and travel to the chest or back. The pain becomes more intense, prolonged, and hard to alleviate when the sore penetrates the GIT walls causing GIT perforations. The stomach perforation worsens stomach pain associated with ulcers. Other signs closely related include shortness of breath (SOB) and fatigue that stem from anemia. Anemia occurs as a complication of peptic ulcer disease due to malabsorption of vitamins that are essential in red blood cell formation.
In addition, anemia can be caused by blood loss from perforated ulcers liming your gut. In anemia, there is a less number of circulating red blood cells in the body and the lungs to carry oxygen, making it difficult to breathe thus shortness of breath.
A sudden shift in the color to frank blood, maroon, or black is a manifestation of a bleeding ulcer that patients should never ignore. The condition is referred to as hematemesis or melena. Digested blood appears black or maroon and is an indicator that the ulcer is becoming more extensive and severe. Discolored stool necessitates urgent medical attention. However, it would help if you distinguished it from foods or medications that can alter the color of your excrement.
Identifying these symptoms will assist you in distinguishing peptic ulcers from other stomach problems that might have similar manifestations. Additionally, early diagnosis will help in mitigating the condition before it progresses to cause more severe complications such as anemia and stomach cancer. Furthermore, early interception will allow for quick recovery from the various medical therapies available and improve your health status by averting the development of complications.