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Ulcer Treatment | Symptoms and Causes




What exactly is an ulcer?

Ulcers are painful sores and wound that are present in the protective lining of the digestive tract. In humans, the digestive tract is made up of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, duodenum, and intestine. Ulcers are relatively easy to treat but can cause problems and painful situations if left untreated . Peptic ulcers are the most common type of ulcer which is very harmful.

Peptic ulcers are associated with the presence of pepsin, a substance found in the digestive system along with hydrochloric acid in the stomach lining. Peptic ulcers are of three types and are named for their shape and position in the body.

A peptic ulcer that is present in the stomach is known as a gastric ulcer. If the peptic ulcer is in the duodenum, it is referred to as a duodenal ulcer. An esophageal ulcer that forms in the esophagus is called an esophageal ulcer.

Other less-known types of ulcers are stress ulcers that are found in critically ill or intensely stressed patients. Bleeding Ulcer (A peptic ulcer that has been left untreated can be the major cause in internal bleeding).

Internal bleeding is a very critical matter and may require urgent medical attention. This is the most dangerous of all ulcers and, if left untreated , can lead to severe and painful consequences. A refractory ulcer is a term used to describe a peptic ulcer that has not healed over a period of time.


An ulcer is formed when the mucus layer protecting the tissues of the body against digestive juices or acid breaks down or wears out. This breakdown may be as a result of one of the Helicobacter pylori(a bacterium that causes stomach infection and inflammation, as well as frequent aspirin use).

Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, smoking, stomach cancer radiation therapy, excessive alcohol intake, excessive stomach acid secretion


Abdominal pain that starts between meals or at night is relieved after the use of antacids that lasts for a little or hours; discomfort after meals; heartburn, bad breath, constipation, abnormal weight loss, nausea and vomiting, unusual and sudden headaches, sleep problems and disturbance, changes in appetite, indigestion, bloody or dark stool. The severity of your ulcer will be determined by your symptoms.

Your doctor will request your medical history and review it and follow up on your symptoms by asking questions about how the pain feels, how frequent it is, how long it lasts and which  medications you are taking.

A blood, stool, or breath test may be ordered to check for infections in your stomach caused by the Helicobacter pylorus bacterium. Other tests may be required in the case of more serious symptoms like bleeding. An upper endoscopy is where a thin tube with a camera is inserted and passed down your throat into your stomach and small intestines to visualize and examine the area for ulcers. 

Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Test In this procedure, you will drink a thick white liquid called barium that coats your upper gastrointestinal tract and makes it possible for your doctor to view and treat the ulcer on X-rays. This process is also referred to as "barium swallow."


The treatment may be nonsurgical or surgical and depends on the underlying cause of the ulcer. Nonsurgical Treatments If an ulcer is due to Helicobacter pylori infections, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to help kill infections and proton pump inhibitors to block acid producing cells.

If helicobacter pylori has been ruled out, proton pump inhibitors may be recommended. This helps with blocking acid-producing cells. Other nonsurgical treatments may include stopping all use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and using two receptor blockers that reduce acid production.

Antacids, bismuth supplements, surgical In rare cases where the ulcer bleeds, refuses to heal, continues to occur, or stops food from leaving the stomach, surgical treatment may be required. The surgery may include the removal of the ulcer, tying off the blood vessel, or cutting off the nerve that produces acid in the stomach.