Peptic ulcers are tricky to diagnose because a whopping three-fourths of people who have them don’t experience symptoms. If left untreated, peptic ulcers can eat away at the lining of your stomach or small intestine, leading to infection. They can also result in internal bleeding or the inability of food to pass through your digestive system. To help you avoid these serious conditions, the team at GastroCare LI wants to arm you with knowledge about peptic ulcers. If you are concerned about whether you may have one, contact us today at (516) 265-7049 for an evaluation.
What Is a Peptic Ulcer?
Peptic ulcers are essentially open sores in the stomach’s inner lining, called gastric ulcers, or in the small intestine’s inner lining, called duodenal ulcers. These sores develop when stomach acid eats away at your stomach or small intestine’s lining. Peptic ulcers can lead to internal bleeding, obstruction of the digestive tract, or infection in the abdominal cavity.
What Are the Symptoms?
The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is a burning sensation in your stomach. The pain usually intensifies between meals and at night when the stomach is empty. Taking an antacid may temporarily help the pain since stomach acid worsens the burning sensation. Other common symptoms of peptic ulcers include:
- Intolerance of fatty food
- Increased burping
Sometimes people experience more severe symptoms, including:
- Stools with dark blood or the consistency of black tar
- Vomiting, with or without blood
- Weight loss
- Change in appetite
Peptic ulcers often go untreated because the more common symptoms just seem like typical heartburn or because no symptoms may manifest at all. The sooner you diagnose it, though, the easier it is to treat, so consulting a doctor is important if you experience any of the above-listed symptoms.
What Causes a Peptic Ulcer?
The two most common causes of peptic ulcers are overuse of aspirin or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Taking pain medication such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or medications with naproxen sodium can inflame the stomach and small intestine’s lining. When this happens over and over, you increase the risk of developing a peptic ulcer in the lining of your stomach or small intestine. The fact that peptic ulcers occur more frequently in older adults who take such pain medication on a regular basis attests to the link between anti-inflammatory drugs and peptic ulcers.
Another cause of peptic ulcers is the usually harmless Helicobacter pylori bacteria that live in mucous tissue of the stomach and small intestinal lining. Sometimes the bacteria irritate the inner lining, leading to an ulcer. Doctors are still not sure why this happens or how the infection spreads.
Stomach issues can be some of the most painful and persistent problems that a person experiences. At GastroCare LI, we understand this and have the experience to help you receive the most complete and compassionate care possible. If you live in the Long Island or Queens area, contact our offices today at (516) 265-7049 to get the relief you need.