Gastric Ulcer

Gastric Ulcers: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Gastric ulcers, commonly known as stomach ulcers, are a type of peptic ulcer – ulcers or lesions that form in the lining of the stomach, small intestine or esophagus. While they affect approximately 15 million American adults per year, they are largely preventable.

Symptoms of Gastric Ulcers

The symptoms associated with gastric ulcers vary from person to person, but generally include:

  • Burning pain in the abdomen
  • Nausea after meals
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bloody stools or vomit

Causes of Gastric Ulcers

The most common cause of gastric ulcers is a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori. This bacteria can be transmitted through contaminated water, food, human contact, saliva or fecal matter. In some cases, gastric ulcers can be caused by long-term use of certain medications, such as aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Additionally, severe physical trauma, chronic alcohol consumption or cigarette smoking may lead to the development of gastric ulcers.

Treatment for Gastric Ulcers

Treatment for gastric ulcers depends on the severity and cause of the condition. In the majority of cases, a combination of antibiotics and other medications is recommended to treat H. pylori infections. In addition, a healthcare provider may prescribe antacids, histamine receptor antagonists, or other medications to reduce pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. If the condition is severe, surgery may be necessary.

Prevention of Gastric Ulcers

It is important to take action to reduce the risk of developing gastric ulcers. Taking measures to reduce the amount of stress in one’s daily life and eating a nutritious diet are two of the most effective ways to prevent gastric ulcers. Additionally, it is important to avoid using excessive amounts of NSAIDs and to avoid smoking or heavy drinking. Finally, wash hands regularly and take steps to protect against H. pylori infections.