It’s a fact that over 25,000,000 American’s will, at some point over their lifetime, suffer from a stomach ulcer. There have been countless rumors about what it is exactly that causes stomach ulcers, from stress to spicy food, but neither of these are the reasons why people develop stomach ulcers (although they will make an existing one worse!).
The two biggest causes of stomach ulcers are 1. the prolonged use of Asprin (ibuprofen and naproxen) and 2. a bacterial infection called H. pylori. There’s a thick layer of mucous in the stomach that protects the stomach from its own digestive juices. When there is a decline in the amount of mucous, the acid can get through and cause an ulcer.
Here are six signs to look for if you think you may have an ulcer.
5. Stomach Pain
This is the most common symptom – it’s typically a dull, burning sensation in the mid-stomach area. The pain usually is at its highest between meals and the night time – a time when the acid is leaking into your stomach but there’s no food to act as a buffer. Taking antacids can help relieve the pain temporarily but chances are the pain will just keep coming back.
Because the ulcer is always doused in acid, stomach pain can be paired with chronic heartburn or regurgitation. Other symptoms like being bloated, burping or feeling full most of the time are close seconds. Similar to the stomach pain, taking an antacid can help dull the pain temporarily but it will likely keep coming back.
3. Nausea / Vomiting
The inflammation of the stomach lining caused by the ulcer can cause the stomach muscles to contract often, many times causing people to have nausea and could become full-force vomiting. The symptoms strike because the ulcer can cause a temporary blockage in the stomach so food can’t pass through the small intestine properly. If you have evidence of a true blockage, you’ll need to go to the hospital for further investigation.
2. Bloody Vomit/Poop
We discussed how ulcers can cause vomiting, and ulcers also bleed, so if you put two and two together this is what could happen. If you vomit blood, or stuff that looks like coffee grounds (undigested blood from the stomach), or your poop is darker in color than normal, go get medical attention immediately.
1. Chest/Back Pain
If an ulcer has penetrated through the bowel wall, the pain can become a lot more intense, last longer and be much harder to ultimately get rid of and the pain is not afraid to travel. The ulcer can cause perforation and if that happens, you’ll know it and should get medical attention as quickly as possible.