Gastric ulcers are stomach ulcers, which are open wounds that develop on the inner lining of your stomach, while the duodenal ulcers develop in the upper portion of the small intestine. Both gastric and duodenal ulcers together are called peptic ulcers. They occur when the protective thick layer of mucus lining the stomach and protecting from the acidic juices is disrupted/becomes thin. This in turn allows the acidic juices to damage the stomach tissue lining, resulting in ulcer formation.
Gastric ulcers are easily and completely curable, provided they are detected and treated on time. If left untreated can result in serious complications.
Scroll down to know about all aspects of gastric ulcers, their causes, risk factors, treatment, prevention, and the doctor to consult for gastric ulcer treatment in Delhi at Samadhan Clinic.
What are the symptoms of Gastric ulcers?
There are several symptoms of gastric ulcer, of which burning pain/discomfort in the stomach region between chest and navel, and indigestion are the most common symptoms. Others include:
- Bloating sensation: tummy feels full of gas and swelled up.
- Retching or ‘heaving’ of the stomach: Feels like you are about to vomit but don’t actually vomit.
- Loss of appetite
- Dull stomach pain
- Nausea: Feel sick
- Weight loss: due to appetite loss.
- Heartburn: Burning sensation in the chest area
- Dark-colored stools: due to possible bleeding from ulcer
Why do gastric ulcers happen?
The common causes for Gastric ulcers are outlined below:
- Bacteria: Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) resides in the mucous layer of the stomach and small intestine. It usually causes no problems, but sometimes causes inflammation, resulting in the ulcer formation
- Regular and over usage of certain painkillers: Like aspirin and other NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) naproxen, ibuprofen, etc. can cause irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining
- Other medicines: Overuse of steroids, anti-coagulants, etc. can lead to ulcer formation
- Other factors: Frequent smoking, alcohol consumption, eating spicy food, untreated stress can also result in gastric ulcers
- A condition- Zollinger- Ellison syndrome, although rare, but can cause gastric ulcers
How can Gastric ulcers be diagnosed?
A detailed medical history including the treatment history and physical examination is usually sufficient to diagnose the Gastric Ulcers. The following tests are requested to confirm/identify the cause by the treating doctor.
- Breath Test and blood test: to rule out H. pylori infection
- Barium test: A liquid is made to swallow which coats your stomach lining and the doctor can visualize with the help of a series of X- Rays
- Endoscopy: A thin tube with a light is put inside your stomach through the mouth and inspected for bleeding, ulcers, or any other abnormality
- Endoscopic biopsy: A small piece of stomach tissue is removed and sent to the lab, for testing.
How can Gastric ulcers be cured?
Gastric ulcers are curable, but the diagnosis and management must be prompt. The treatment mainly depends upon its cause, either killing the bacterium, reducing the use of NSAIDs, or gastric ulcer cure in Delhi through medicines. The entire treatment can be divided into:
Reviewing and prescribing alternative medicines:
- If the cause of gastric ulcer is overuse of NSAIDs, then your doctor may change this to another painkiller
- If you are taking low-dose aspirin, your doctor will assess and guide you to continue that or suggest modifications
- Antibiotics: If you have an H. pylori infection, a combination of 2-3 antibiotics shall be given to kill this bacterium. Usually, a course of 2 weeks is prescribed
- Medicines to promote healing and block acid production: These medicines are called Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) which reduce the amount of acid produced by your stomach so that further damage is prevented and ulcer heals naturally. e.g. Omeprazole, Pantoprazole etc.
- Medicines that reduce acid production: These are Acid blockers, also called Histamine(H-2) blockers. They work by reducing the acid production by the stomach, thus relieving pain and promoting healing. E.g. Ranitidine
- Antacids and Alginates: The above medications take some time (some hours) to show effects, therefore antacids are prescribed for immediate pain relief, although their effects are short-term and symptomatic and do not cure the ulcer
Interventional Endoscopy: Sometimes, endoscopy is also done for treatment Ex: If the ulcer is bleeding, the doctor can stop the active bleeding through endoscopic intervention
Surgical Treatment: Usually gastric ulcers are curable with the above treatment, but in some cases, where these don’t work, surgery is recommended. In case, if the ulcer gets too deep and causes a hole through your stomach wall (perforation), it’s an emergency and immediate surgery is required to save life
General Advice and lifestyle measures:
- If you are overweight, try to lose weight
- Eat small meals, and dinner should be at least 3-4 hours before going to bed
- Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake
- Avoid tea/coffee, chocolates, spicy foods
- Have a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, and fiber. Certain foods like broccoli, leafy greens, apples, oranges, berries, Yogurt, etc. help to kill H. pylori and increase the inhabitant healthy bacteria in the gut
All medicines have side effects and therefore, consume medicines only after prescription and follow doctor’s instructions carefully.
If the initial symptoms are ignored and left untreated, there can be serious complications like:
- Bleeding internally: there can be continuous blood loss leading to anemia (weakness and fatigue due to blood loss) or if the blood loss is severe, you may need hospitalization and blood transfusion.
- Perforation of the stomach wall: as ulcers deepen, it will create a hole on your stomach wall resulting in serious infection of the abdominal cavity (Peritonitis)
- Cancer: Those having H. pylori infection and not treated are at a higher risk of developing cancer
- Having dark-colored stools and blood-stained vomit are the red flags for potential complications
You may be at risk if you:
- Smoke a lot
- Consume excessive alcohol
- Injudiciously use painkillers
- Have high and untreated stress
- Eat excessive spicy foods
Few tips which might help to prevent gastric ulcers:
- Protect from infections: Follow good hygiene practices like frequent hand washing and eating properly cooked and clean food which will help you prevent infection from H. pylori
- Use pain killers cautiously: Don’t overuse them and always seek your doctor's advice before consuming any medicines
- Avoid alcohol use during the medication course: As this increases the risk of making your stomach upset
- Eat healthy: Have a balanced diet and avoid too many spices
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms which last for more than a few days and happen frequently, then you must consult the doctor, because early detection and treatment is very important to cure gastric ulcer.
Do not wait and if you have the slightest doubt about having a gastric ulcer, please consult Samadhan clinic for the best, affordable and ethical guidance for treating gastric ulcer. Dr. Shri Ram Agarwal is one of the best gastroenterologists in Delhi, qualified from the premier medical institutes of India, and has more than 20 years of vast experience in this field. He is dedicated to providing personalized and best treatment with outstanding treatment outcomes, compassion and care towards patients. Samadhan clinic is equipped with the latest state-of-art technologies and maintains strict norms for hygiene, infection control, and patient safety.