Recognizing Stomach Ulcer Symptoms

November 12, 2012

Recognizing Stomach Ulcer Symptoms

Peptic ulcers are commonly known as stomach ulcers. People often ignore stomach ulcer symptoms in the mistaken belief that they are only experiencing heartburn, an upset stomach or stomach flu. By the time people go to the doctor for treatment, the stomach ulcer is often far along. Peptic ulcers are caused by a specific bacterium, Helobactor pylori. Most of the time, Helobactor pylori lives in the stomach and upper digestive system without causing any stomach ulcer symptoms at all. Just how this bacterium got into the stomach, why it becomes destructive and what role it plays in normal food digestion is still unknown. Helobactor pylori were only discovered in 1982. Early Symptoms The earliest stomach ulcer symptoms are so mild that they are often ignored and forgotten. These symptoms are identical to other mild ailments such as a mild stomach upset or mild nausea. These symptoms come and go. When they do appear, they are often brief and do not disrupt sleep. People may experience mild heartburn that can be treated with over the counter antacids or home remedies. Because the heartburn goes away so quickly, patients often dismiss it until symptoms worsen. Symptoms That Send People to a Doctor People begin to suspect something is wrong when they get an annoying burning sensation in their stomach, especially when the stomach is empty. This burn can become so bad that it disrupts sleep. Burning stomach is the most commonly reported of stomach ulcer symptoms. Pain can flare up whenever a person lays down. This burning pain is caused by stomach acid. Normally, the stomach can tolerate stomach acid but over time, but a person with a peptic ulcer has a section of the stomach that has become so irritated by the Helobactor pylori bacterium that any contact with stomach acid becomes painful. The acid then worsens the ulcer and causes it to grow. Eating helps to dilute the acid and ease the burning pain.

Other alarming stomach ulcer symptoms include but are not restricted to:

  • Chronic nausea and loss of appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Sudden weight loss due to vomiting and nausea

  • Dark red or black feces due to blood in the feces

  • Vomiting up blood which is often a very dark color but can be red

  • Anemia from loss of blood and weight loss

Problems With Over the Counter Antacids

Because over the counter antacids worked before to quell early stomach ulcer symptoms, patients with stomach ulcers often take more of these products to get relief. But if they have been given medication specifically to treat their ulcers, they should stop taking over the counter medications. Ulcer patients are often given medication to help reduce the production of stomach acid and over the counter medications can interfere with this. People with peptic ulcers are also given antibiotics, which kill Helobactor pylori.

Side effects from any of these medications include diarrhea, constipation, increased flatulence and abdominal cramps. Patients also need to make diet and lifestyle changes to help reduce or eliminate pain.

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