Stomach ulcer, also called as the peptic ulcer disease (PUD) or gastric ulcer is often a small mucosal erosion (equal to or greater than 0.5 cm), that is usually acidic and extremely painful, found in the gastrointestinal tract of the patient. It is on of the most common ulcers of the gastrointestinal tract and is often confused with its counterpart, the duodenal ulcer. Ulcers of the duodenum are called so only if they are found within the first 12 inches of the small intestine, beyond which the ulcer is called as the stomach or the gastric ulcer. While duodenal ulcers are mostly benign, stomach ulcers may become malignant over a period of time.
Some of the common causes of stomach ulcer include the Helicobacter pylori bacterium (a spiral-shaped bacterium that breeds in the stomach) and consumption of certain non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Some common symptoms of stomach ulcer include but are not limited to:
Abdominal Pain: One of the most common symptoms of stomach ulcer is abdominal pain (classically epigastric) with severity relating to ingestion, as the production of gastric acid gets increased as food enters the stomach. The pain is usually felt anywhere from the navel up to the sternum, ranging from a few minutes to several hours.
Abdominal bloating: Again, abdominal bloating is one of the most prevalent symptoms of stomach ulcer, mostly experienced after ingestion. Indigestion and heartburn also accompany abdominal bloating in a lot of cases.
Waterbrash: Waterbrash is a sudden rush of saliva often experienced by patients after an episode of regurgitation to dilute the acid in the esophagus.
Nausea and vomiting: Persistent nausea or vomiting is also considered as a potential indication towards a stomach ulcer.
Loss of appetite: A longer loss of appetite is often treated as a vague symptom for stomach ulcer.
Weight loss: A loss of more than 5 percent of the normal body weight in the course of six months or less is one of the most common symptoms of an ulcer of the stomach.
Hematemesis: Hematemesis or vomiting of blood usually occurs in patients due to a bleeding gastric ulcer or from a damaged esophagus due to persistent vomiting.
Other than the aforesaid symptoms, heartburn , gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and certain NSAIDs often act as catalysts in the formation of a stomach ulcer. The burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach may last anywhere between thirty minutes to three hours.
The symptoms of stomach ulcer may also vary among patients with the location of the ulcer and the patient’s age. Usually, in cases of children and older patients, the symptoms are vague or absent until complications have arisen.
A person suffering from any of the above stated symptoms must be referred to a gastroenterologist for immediate diagnosis. Stomach ulcers can be temporarily relieved from by consuming antacids.
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