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Surgical Gastroenterology


Ulcers are painful sores that develop on the lining of the digestive tract, which includes the oesophagus, stomach and small intestine. The digestive tract is coated with a mucous layer that provides protection against the acids in the stomach. When these acids increase in amount, they damage the mucous coating and lead to the development of ulcers. They can be extremely painful and uncomfortable. Therefore, ulcer treatment at the earliest is extremely crucial.

Symptoms of Ulcer

Mentioned below are some of the most common symptoms of ulcers:

  • Burning stomach pain
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Bloating
  • Intolerance to fatty foods
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Discomfort

Some of the rare symptoms of severe ulcers include:

  • Vomiting
  • Blood in vomit
  • Blood in stools
  • Dark/ Black stools
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Changes in appetite

Causes Of Ulcer

Bacterium Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori): This bacterium dwells in the mucous layer that provides protection to the tissues lining the stomach and the small intestine. It generally causes no harm, but when increased in number, it can cause inflammation in the stomach's inner layer which results in the development of painful ulcers. Mild stomach ulcer treatment is possible with medications, however, it is essential that you take quick actions.

Certain Medications: Regular or excess usage of certain pain relief medications, over-the-counter medications, prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause irritation and inflammation in the lining of the stomach and small intestine leading to the development of ulcers.

Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome: Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a rare cause of ulcers. It increases the production of acids in the body that damage the lining and lead to the formation of ulcers. This syndrome is extremely rare and causes less than 1% of all ulcers.

Diagnosis and Tests Of Ulcer

Endoscopy: This test is done to examine your upper digestive tract to determine the presence of an ulcer. In the process, your doctor will pass an endoscope (a tube with a tiny camera lens on it) down your throat to your oesophagus, stomach and small intestine. If your doctor suspects the presence of an ulcer, a small tissue sample is taken for histopathology, to look for presence of H. pylori in your stomach lining, or other cause of ulcers, which will help them chart your ulcer treatment.

Lab Test For Bacterium Helicobacter Pylori: Other noninvasive tests for H. pylori are, Urease breath test (UBT), stool antigen test and serological markers from blood.

The Urease breath test is based on the ability of H.pylori to convert urea to ammonia and carbon dioxide. In this patients is asked to consume urea with uncommon isotope - radioactive carbon. The H. pylori bacterium reacts with radioactive carbon and produces carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia. You will be asked to blow into a bag which will later be tested for the traces of CO2. The presence of CO2 will confirm H. pylori in your body and the doctors will begin your treatment accordingly.

It is advised to not take any medications without consulting your doctor, prior to the test, as it can, interfere in the testing process and tamper with the test results.

Medications For Ulcer

Mild ulcers can be easily treated with medications such as the following:

  • Antibiotic: Since H. pylori is considered to be the main reason for ulcers, your doctor may recommend antibiotics to kill the bacteria and treat ulcers effectively.
  • Acid Blockers: Certain acids produced in the stomach can damage the mucosal lining and lead to ulcers. Medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI) can stop the production of such acid and promote healing in the stomach. It can be an efficient treatment of ulcers.
  • Antacids: Antacids neutralize the stomach acid and help relieve the pain caused by ulcers. Therefore, your doctor may include certain antacids in your regimen for stomach ulcer treatment.
  • Cytoprotective Agents: These are medications that protect the lining of the stomach and the small intestine and prevent ulcers.

Treatment And Prevention Of Ulcer

  • Non-surgical Ulcer Treatment: Treatment of ulcers resulting from H.pylori can be easily done with certain medications such as antibiotics, antacids and acid blockers which are considered to be the best for stomach ulcer treatment.
  • Surgical Ulcer Treatment: In some rare and severe cases, where a stomach ulcer is recurring, bleeds, or disrupts the digestive process, you may need invasive surgery to treat it. The surgical procedure generally involves removing the entire ulcer and patching the wound spot with a piece of tissue from the intestine.
  • Healthy Diet: A healthy diet is a key to a healthy life. A well-nourished diet can maintain the good health of your intestinal tract and prevent ulcers from developing. You can include leafy green vegetables, probiotic-rich foods such as yoghurt, fruits such as apples and berries in your diet.
  • Manage Stress: A stressful lifestyle can pave the way for several health complications, and can worsen the symptoms of peptic ulcers. Address the cause of your stress and work towards managing it better. Some effective stress management strategies include journaling, walking & exercising, listening to music, talking to a friend or loved one. If you think you are unable to manage your stress no matter what you do, you must consider counselling or therapy.
  • Quit Tobacco: Smoking and tobacco consumption increases your risk of developing stomach ulcers as it can damage the protective lining of the stomach and increase the amounts of stomach acids.
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can erode the protective mucosal layer in the stomach and the intestines, leading to inflammation and bleeding which can further lead to peptic, gastric and stomach ulcers. To prevent this, you must limit your alcohol consumption.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the fastest way to cure a stomach ulcer?

Mild ulcers can be easily treated with certain medications. If you think you have any symptoms of ulcers contact your healthcare provider immediately.

How to deal with stomach ulcers?

Antibiotics, antacids and acid-blockers can help you deal with ulcers. However, it is advised to seek professional consultation before taking any such medications.

What antibiotics treat ulcers?

Antibiotics such as amoxicillin, levofloxacin, clarithromycin, tinidazole, metronidazole, etc can help. It is wise to consult your doctor before taking any of these medications.

How long does it take for a stomach ulcer to heal with medication?

The healing time depends on the type and severity of the condition. The period can range anywhere between a couple of weeks to a few months. If you’re facing any discomfort or notice any symptoms of ulcers, contact your doctor immediately.


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