At Great Lakes Gastroenterology, we treat many patients who are suffering from ulcers.

The most common types of ulcers we see are peptic ulcers which are defined as open sores inside the stomach lining and/or upper part of the small intestine. Peptic ulcers typically can be broken down into the following:

  • Gastric ulcers – These types of ulcers occur on the interior of the stomach
  • Duodenal ulcers – These ulcers occur on the inside of the upper region of the small intestine

Causes of Peptic Ulcers

The most common causes of peptic ulcers often are due to the H. pylori bacteria or prolonged use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs including Aleve, Advil, as well as aspirin and others. While many people assume ulcers are caused by stress or spicy foods, new studies show this is likely not the case. While these may make symptoms worse, they likely aren’t the cause of ulcers in the first place.

Common Symptoms of Ulcers

Below are some of the common symptoms of peptic ulcers:

  • Bloating, belching and a general feeling of fullness
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Intolerance to fatty foods
  • Burning pain in the stomach area

Risk Factors for Developing Peptic Ulcers

The following have been shown to increase the risk of peptic ulcers:

  • Smoking – Smoking has been shown to increase your risk of developing ulcers, especially for those infected with H. pylori.
  • Alcohol – Alcohol can irritate the mucous lining of the stomach and in turn, increase the amount of stomach acid that’s produced.
  • Stress – While it has been shown that stress alone likely will not cause ulcers, it can contribute to those who may have a higher propensity to develop ulcers.

Complications of Ulcers

If you’re currently dealing with ulcers and they’re left untreated, they could result in the following:

  • Infection – Ulcers can literally eat a hole through your stomach or small intestine, creating a serious risk of infection of your abdominal cavity.
  • Internal bleeding – Ulcers can lead to slow or severe bleeding, which can ultimately lead to hospitalization.
  • Obstruction – Ulcers can block the passage of food through the digestive tract and cause you to become full easier than normal, vomit and even lose weight.

How to Prevent Stomach Ulcers

There are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of developing stomach ulcers, a few of which include:

  • Be careful when using pain relievers – if you regularly take pain relievers, take steps to reduce potential stomach problems by taking your medication with meals. Also, take the lowest possible dose of medication to address your pain and avoid drinking alcohol when taking pain relievers.
  • Protect yourself from bacteria – It’s not entirely clear how H. pylori (one of the bacteria that contribute to stomach ulcers) spreads, but one way to reduce your chances of contracting an infection can include washing your hands often and avoiding ingesting foods that haven’t been cooked completely.

Dealing with Stomach Pain Due to Ulcers?

If you’re dealing with chronic stomach pain that you’re worried maybe a stomach ulcer, feel free to reach out to our team at Great Lakes Gastroenterology today. We’ll be happy to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to help you reduce your discomfort and finally find out what’s causing your stomach pain. Give us a call today at (440) 205-1225 to schedule an appointment.

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