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What are Ulcers and How Do They Relate to Digestive Health

Digestive Health > > What are Ulcers and How Do They Relate to Digestive Health

If you are experiencing a burning or gnawing feeling in your stomach that lasts for hours, you could have an ulcer.

While the pain of an ulcer is similar to that of heartburn, indigestion or hunger, it is usually felt in the upper abdomen and it can sometimes be felt below the breastbone. The pain can strike right after you eat or it could be delayed for hours. Sometimes ulcer pain flares up for weeks at a time and then goes away.

Other symptoms include but are not limited to:

• appetite and weight loss
• weight gain for people with doudenal ulcers (eating eases discomfort)
• vomiting
• blood in the stool
• anemia

A stomach ulcer (also called a peptic ulcer) is a small hole in the gastrointestinal tract. The most common type, duodenal, occurs in the first 12 inches of small intestine beyond the stomach. Ulcers – or small erosions – found in the stomach are called gastric ulcers.

Nerves around those holes or erosions become agitated and that is the main source of the pain. Stomach ulcers can cause hemorrhages if a major blood vessel is eroded. Tears in the wall of the stomach or intestine

Causes of Ulcers

Peptic ulcers occur when the lining – called the gastric or intestinal mucosal lining – of the stomach is eaten away by hydrochloric acid. The acid is normally present in the digestive juices of the stomach.

Infection: Research has shown the bacterium Helicobacter pylori are instrumental in causing gastric and duodenal ulcers. Helicobacter pylori can be transmitted from person to person through contaminated food and water. Antibiotics are used to treat Helicobacter pylori

Injury: Injury to the gastric mucosal lining and wakening of the lining also causes gastric ulcers. Contributing factors to this kind of ulcer are:

• excess secretion of hydrochloric acid
• genetic predisposition
• psychological stress

Medication and other chemicals can cause ulcers including:

• anti-inflammatory drugs
• cigarette smoke
• alcohol
• caffeine

If you believe you have an ulcer, contact your physician because serious complications can arise from this serious form of poor digestive health. The doctor will recommend treatments based on your age and overall health. The severity of your ulcer will also be taken into consideration along with your medical history and your tolerance to certain types of medication. If you are a smoker, your doctor will tell you to stop smoking in order to help your ulcer get better. Depending on the type of ulcer you have and the established cause, antibiotics might also be used as a course of treatment. In some cases, surgery is required.

Digestive Health > > What are Ulcers and How Do They Relate to Digestive Health