222721 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Gastric Ulcer

    (Stomach Ulcer; Ulcer, Gastric; Ulcer, Stomach)

    Definition

    A gastric ulcer is a sore in the lining of your stomach. Ulcers can be treated. A small percentage of them may be cancerous. See your doctor if you think you may have a gastric ulcer.
    Gastric Ulcer
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    Causes

    Most gastric ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection. It is most often Helicobacter pylori . An ulcer may also be caused by the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

    Risk Factors

    Some factors thought to increase the risk of a gastric ulcer are:
    • Gender: male
    • Older age (the incidence of gastric ulcer peaks at age 50)
    • Regular use of pain medications
    • Smoking
    • High levels of stress
    • Lower socioeconomic status
    • Alcohol use
    • Acid reflux
    • Gastritis
    • Cirrhosis
    • Chronic kidney failure
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • Use of steroid medications

    Symptoms

    Symptoms include:
      Abdominal pain that may:
      • Wake you at night
      • Be relieved by antacids or milk
      • Occur 2-3 hours after a meal
      • Be worse when you don't eat
    • Nausea
    • Abdominal indigestion
    • Vomiting, especially blood
    • Blood in stools or black, tarry stools
    • Unintentional weight loss
    • Fatigue
    • Burning pain in the gut that feels like a dull ache and comes and goes, often starts 2-3 hours after a meal and goes away after you eat, or it may come in the middle of the night when your stomach is empty
    • Losing weight
    • Loss of appetite
    • Pain while eating
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam may be done. Other tests may include:
    • Biopsy —removal of a sample of tissue for testing
    • Blood tests
    • Endoscopy —a thin, lighted tube inserted down the throat to examine parts of the body
    • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) X-ray —a series of x-rays of the upper digestive system taken after drinking a barium solution (also called a barium swallow)
    • Breath tests

    Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Some ulcers will heal if you avoid caffeine, NSAIDs, alcohol, and tobacco. Other treatment options include:

    Medications

    Treatment with medications focuses on:
    • Stopping your stomach from making acids
    • Killing the bacteria that is causing your ulcer
    Medications used to treat gastric ulcers include:
    • Proton pump inhibitors
    • Histamine receptor blockers
    • Antibiotics
    Antacids may also help reduce pain and heal ulcers.

    Surgery

    If ulcers do not heal with medications, surgery may be needed. Surgery can remove the ulcers and/or reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes.
    If you are diagnosed with a gastric ulcer, follow your doctor's instructions .
    If you are diagnosed with a gastric ulcer, follow your doctor's instructions .

    Prevention

    Steps you can take to prevent gastric ulcers include:
    • Stop using NSAIDs. You can talk with your doctor about alternatives
    • Do not smoke.
    • Do not drink alcohol.

    RESOURCES

    American College of Gastroenterology http://www.acg.gi.org/

    National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Association of Gastroenterology http://www.cag-acg.org/

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html/

    References

    DynaMed Editorial Team. Gastric peptic ulcer disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated July 9, 2010. Accessed November 5, 2010.

    Helicobacter pylori and peptic ulcer disease. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ulcer/history.htm . Accessed July 30, 2007.

    Mayo Clinic. Peptic ulcer. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/peptic-ulcer/DS00242 . Updated January 6, 2009. Accessed November 5, 2010.

    Revision Information

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