Stomach ulcer symptoms causes a lot of discomfort and knowing how to manage them properly is very important.
Peptic ulcer disease is a very common condition suffered by more than 4 million people every year. It could occur in any section of the gastrointestinal tract. Peptic ulcer disease or PUD is defined as damage found in your gastro-intestinal (GI) mucosa, particularly that of the lower esophagus, gastric and duodenal areas. Hydrochloric acid combined with stress and an unhealthy diet and lifestyle are usually the main causes of PUD. Helicobacter pylori is also seen a one of the major causes of stomach ulcers. Other causes related to the development of PUD would be the frequent intake of anti-inflammatory medication.
Basically, there are three types of peptic ulcer disease basing on their location: esophageal, gastric and duodenal. As the mucosal lining in these areas gradually erode, ulcer symptoms would start to appear. In this article, we would be talking about gastric or stomach ulcer symptoms and how they differ from the other two.
Comparing Ulcer Symptoms
Ulcer symptoms vary depending on their location. Knowing the difference would be of great help to the doctor when it comes to diagnosing the type of ulcer that you have. This would make it easier for them to manage your condition, and thus making it easier for you in the process.
Pain – this is a very common symptom that can be seen in all types of ulcers. It could be described as burning pain, often referred to as heartburn. It is usually felt in the upper abdomen and is said to radiate to the breastbone. In gastric ulcers, pain is felt 1-2 hours after eating and could not be relieved by eating some more. In duodenal ulcers, pain is felt 3-4 hours after eating and could easily be relieved by food intake. In esophageal ulcers, pain occurs when swallowing food. This is called dysphagia.
Bleeding – bleeding occurs because your mucosal lining has already been damaged and might have exposed some capillaries and veins. Bleeding in esophageal and gastric ulcers would take the form of hematemesis, or the vomiting of blood. The vomitus would be dark, and are called “coffee-ground” by medical practitioners. In duodenal ulcers, it would take the form of melena. Melena is having bloody stools. Feces would look very dark, or black and tarry because of the blood found in them.
Weight loss and anorexia – these ulcer symptoms are commonly found in esophageal and gastric ulcers. In esophageal ulcer, weight loss is due to the fact that the person experiences dysphagia, making it difficult for him or her to eat and swallow food. Weight loss could also occur due to the malabsorption of the nutrients because of the damaged gastric lining.
Weight gain – this is found in patients with duodenal ulcers. As pain is relieved by eating, people with duodenal ulcers tend to eat every time they feel pain. This is what is causing them to gain weight.
Belching – this is commonly known as burping and is very common in people with PUD. Belching involves the release of air to decompress the stomach (See: Stomach cancer symptoms). This usually happens when the normal rhythm of the GI tract has been changed or interrupted.
As you can see, the manifestations of PUD are not very pretty. People would need to know the different treatment methods available. This would give way to better management of the disease.
Managing Peptic Ulcer Symptoms
In this day and age, there are already various treatment methods that are utilized in the therapeutic management of PUD. Treatment methods are also tailored to suit the client and would also largely depend on the etiology of the condition. Listed below would be some of the most common remedies for PUD.
1. Pain management. The greatest goal of treating stomach ulcer symptoms would be to decrease the level of pain the patient feels. They would be given medication to help reduce acid production and reduce pain. Included here would be antacids, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors. Drug therapy in ulcer patients is usually long-term because pain symptoms would eventually return once the medication is discontinued.
2. Lifestyle changes. People suffering from PUD would have to undergo major lifestyle changes to prevent further complications of their condition. Smokers would have to quit smoking. Alcohol intake, coffee and acidic drinks should be avoided too. As much as possible, patients should also be kept from being stressed.
3. Dietary changes. The diet of patients with PUD should be low in fat and taken in smaller portions at frequent intervals. They are not allowed to go hungry or skip a meal. They should also avoid eating food containing cow’s milk. These types of food require high amounts of hydrochloric acid for it to be digested, and that is just the exact opposite of our goal in the treatment of PUD. Spicy food, contrary to popular belief, does not cause PUD. However, if you already have open sores, spicy food would further aggravate your symptoms.
We all know that prevention is better than cure. Stomach ulcer symptoms could easily be avoided by leading a healthy lifestyle and having healthy well-balanced diets. Do not wait for that pain to start. Act now.