What Is An Ulcer: Treatment And Prevention

Learn more about what really is an ulcer. Types of ulcers that can cause pain and complications are peptic ulcers, otherwise known as gastric ulcers, and duodenal ulcers. Treating ulcers early is important.

There are two types of ulcers that can cause pain and complications if not properly treated. The book entitled "Every Woman's Health", published by Doubleday Book & Music Clubs, Inc., says a peptic or gastric ulcer forms in the stomach, and a duodenal ulcer forms in the small intestines near the stomach. The book entitled "The American Medical Association Family Medical Guide", published in 1982 by Random House, Inc. defines an ulcer as an open wound that develops in the tissue of the digestive tract. A duodenal ulcer is said to be considerably more common than a gastric ulcer. "Every Woman's Health" says early diagnosis and treatment is essential for prompt healing and also to prevent the ulcer from coming back.

The symptoms of an ulcer are described in the following by "Every Woman's Health". It says the most prevalent symptom is a burning pain in the area of the lower chest and/or upper abdomen. The pain of an ulcer can last anywhere from thirty minutes to a few hours. Additional symptoms that may be experienced are weight loss, a decrease in appetite, anemia, nausea, and vomiting. There may be times when the pain of an ulcer seems to be gone and then it suddenly returns. Pain associated with ulcers affect different people in different ways. Some people experience pain immediately after eating, while others may not be bothered for several hours. It is beneficial to figure out what may be responsible for producing excess stomach acid so these things can be avoided.

According to the book "The PDR Family Guide Encyclopedia of Medical Care", published in 1997 by Three Rivers Press, the bacterium "H. pylori" is responsible for the majority of ulcers. It says that too much stomach acid aggravates the already existing problem. Some medications are known to cause ulcers. The same book says arthritis medications that reduce swelling and do not contain steroids are sometimes to blame. Also, ibuprofen and aspirin should not be taken since they can cause irritation and bleeding. Other causes of ulcers mentioned by this book are alcoholic beverages, caffeine, stress, and smoking. Drinks that often contain caffeine are soda, tea, and coffee. Chocolate also contains caffeine and should be avoided. "The American Medical Association Family Medical Guide" adds that the elderly are more susceptible to developing a stomach ulcer. People who do not eat regular meals or who are rushed during mealtime are also likely candidates for this type of ulcer.

An ulcer that goes untreated can cause serious consequences. "The American Medical Association Family Medical Guide" provides the following information regarding risks associated with stomach and duodenal ulcers. It says bleeding due to a stomach ulcer is rare, but it can be very serious. Severe hemorrhaging can result in shock. An ulcer that bleeds slowly over a period of time, may eventually lead to anemia, weight loss, decrease in appetite, and infection. A more serious complication of a persistent gastric ulcer is stomach cancer.

When a duodenal ulcer goes untreated, the risks are low. However, bleeding from duodenal ulcers can cause anemia. Heavy bleeding from this type of ulcer may cause nausea, vomiting, and dark stools. Scarring from a duodenal ulcer can also cause a dangerous blockage.

If you suspect you have an ulcer, it is important to avoid known causes of irritation. There are many nonprescription remedies to help control stomach acid. Talk to your doctor and find out if these products are right for you. When over-the -counter remedies, a modification of diet, the reduction of stress, and quiting smoking does not improve the symptoms of an ulcer, a doctor should be contacted. "The PDR Family Guide Encyclopedia of Medical Care" says immediate medical attention should be given if the patient is vomiting blood, has cold skin accompanied by sweating, faintness, weakness, or is experiencing extreme pain.

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