Your Guide to Peptic Ulcers

Many of us turn to the popular over-the-counter medicine Aspirin to relieve our minor aches and pains. Those with an elevated risk of heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots rely on Aspirin to keep them healthy.

Like with any medicine, there are risks associated with heavy use of Aspirin. Those who overuse Aspirin find themselves developing peptic ulcers. If you’re like me, you’ve probably never heard of peptic ulcers before. Of course, peptic ulcers have other causes besides heavy Aspirin use. Keep reading to learn more about these causes, recognize the symptoms, and keep you and your stomach healthy.

What are Peptic Ulcers?

Skipping all the medical jargon, peptic ulcers are sores on the lining of the stomach. These ulcers are called gastric ulcers. Peptic ulcers can also form on the lining of the small intestine — and these ulcers are called duodenal ulcers.

These ulcers are a result of the stomach acid eating away at the stomach or small intestine’s lining.

Complications from Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers can lead to a variety of health complications. These complications include internal bleeding, perforation (the development of a hole in the stomach or small intestine which can lead to infection), and the creation of scar tissue that can make it hard for food to pass through the digestive system.

Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers

Many people who are living with peptic ulcers do not exhibit any symptoms — which can make them hard to diagnose. For those exhibiting symptoms, however, there are a variety of things to look for.

  • Burning sensation located in the stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Chest Pain
  • Bloody or black stools
  • Weight loss
  • Bloating
  • Increased burping
  • Changes in appetite

If you notice that you are experiencing many of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible. After listening to your symptoms, they will likely order one or both of the following tests:

  • Upper endoscopy

In an upper endoscopy, your doctor will stick a long tube that has a camera attached to it down your throat to look for ulcers in your stomach and small intestine. Your doctor can remove tissues for further examination with the device.

  • Upper GI

This test is usually performed on those who are not at an increased risk of stomach cancer. With this test, you will drink barium and then the doctor will X-Ray your stomach to check your stomach and small intestine for ulcers.

Causes of Peptic Ulcers

  • Heavy use of Aspirin, Advil, and many other inflammatory drugs
  • Helicobacter pylori (a bacteria that is known to cause stomach infections)
  • Smoking
  • Frequent alcohol consumption
  • Radiation Therapy

Of course, other causes exist for peptic ulcers.

Treating Peptic Ulcers

According to GastroCare LI, treatment that your doctor recommends for your peptic ulcers will depend on their cause. For example, medication will be prescribed if the cause of your peptic ulcer is determined to be bacteria.

However, if your peptic ulcers do not have a bacterial cause, your doctor will likely recommend an over the counter medication that reduces stomach acid build-up.