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Symptoms of Stomach Ulcers, Diagnosis and Prevention

Stomach ulcers also called gastric ulcers are linked to a number of symptoms. The severity of the ulcer translates to the severity of the symptoms.

The most common sign of a stomach ulcer is usually a burning sensation or discomfort in the centre of your abdomen, between your belly button and chest. When your stomach is empty, such discomfort is usually quite strong, and can last for a few minutes to many hours.

Symptoms of stomach ulcers 

  • Dull pain in the stomach
  • Bloody vomit (Hematemesis)
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Feeling full easily
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Acid reflux
  • Dark stools (melena)

Warning symptoms which need urgent referral include:

  • Progressive challenges and pain in swallowing.
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Overt gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Family history of malignancy in your upper gastrointestinal tract
  • Severe iron deficiency anaemia

Can stomach ulcers cause headaches and dizziness?

Yes, stomach ulcer complications can lead to headaches and dizziness. Ulcers may end up in bleeding inside your stomach and duodenum in severe cases, making anaemia to develop. Headaches and dizziness are recurrent symptoms of anaemia.

Diagnosis of stomach ulcers

The signs, symptoms and the severity of your ulcer will determine your diagnosis and treatment options. Your healthcare provider will look at your medical history, symptoms, and your use of prescription or over-the-counter medication to know whether you have a stomach ulcer and its possible causes.

What is the treatment for stomach ulcer?

The aetiology (causes) and your ulcer’s severity will determine the type of treatment you receive from your doctor. Most of the treatments require medication and only in rare cases does it require surgery.

It is crucial to treat an ulcer immediately you know you have it. Always consult your doctor about a treatment strategy.  But in case your ulcer is actually bleeding, you may get hospitalised for endoscopy and IV ulcer medication. This may also require a blood transfusion.

Medical treatment

If the stomach ulcer is caused by H. pylori, take antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs prevent stomach cells from producing acid.

Additionally or as alternatives to these treatments, here are what your doctor may also recommend:

  • Stopping the use of all NSAIDs or changing to a lower dose if you are to continue with NSAID.
  • H2 receptor blockers (drugs which also block acid production)
  • Follow-up endoscopy.
  • Bismuth supplement.
  • Probiotics (useful bacteria which might have a role in killing off H. pylori)

With therapy, the signs of an ulcer may disappear rapidly. Even if these symptoms disappear, continue taking the medication your doctor has prescribed. This is particularly critical when dealing with H. pylori infections since the goal is to eliminate the causative organisms.

Here are some of the side effects of stomach ulcer drugs people use:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea

These negative effects are typically only present for a short time. If any of such side effects cause you severe pain, consult your doctor about switching medications.

Stomach ulcer prevention

Practice washing your hands with soap and water habitually to prevent bacteria spread which might cause a stomach ulcer. Also, ensure that you clean your food before cooking it.

Summary

Most stomach ulcers go unnoticed until serious symptoms such as bleeding strikes you. Discomfort and disorientation from blood loss is usually how some people notice that they have stomach ulcer.

 

 

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