What is an ulcer? Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
While wounds can develop outside the body, it is also normal for wounds to occur inside the body.
While wounds can develop outside the body, it is also normal for wounds to occur inside the body. These sores often cause pain and can also occur in other internal organs, especially the stomach.
What is an ulcer?
Ulcers are open sores that form on the inner surface of the digestive system. It can develop in the inner lining of the stomach, the upper part of the small intestine, and the esophagus. They occur when digestive juices damage the walls of the stomach and intestines. This type of ulcer is called peptic ulcer. Ulcers rarely heal on their own, but may recur if the person does not receive treatment. Overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the digestive tract can cause peptic ulcers. Peptic ulcers occur when the protective lining of the digestive system becomes damaged or eroded. While Helicobacter pylori infection does not cause symptoms in most people, it can sometimes irritate the lining of the digestive tract, leading to peptic ulcers. Although these open sores can occur in many areas such as the mouth, stomach, legs and intestines, ulcer is mostly used to refer to ulcers that occur in the stomach and duodenum.
What are the symptoms of ulcer?
The stomach and duodenum have a mucosal lining that protects them, but this lining can wear out over time, especially depending on the diet. Although there may be some differences in the symptoms of duodenal and stomach ulcers, most of the time the symptoms are similar. The symptoms of stomach and duodenal ulcers are often similar. The most common complaint is burning pain in the stomach. Some foods in particular can make ulcer-related symptoms worse. Some people with peptic ulcers have no symptoms. Pain, which is often seen in ulcers, sometimes gets better after eating. Generally, ulcer symptoms are:
- feeling of dizziness
- weight loss
- blood in stool
- difficulty breathing
Who Gets Ulcers?
People with a family history of ulcers have a higher risk of developing ulcers. At the same time, some foods, stress and various diseases can also cause ulcer formation. Causes of ulcers include:
- Helicobacter Pylori Bacteria: Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that can be found in the stomach. When it grows excessively, it begins to break down the stomach lining and forms an ulcer.
- Medicines: Other common reasons for the development of ulcers include long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or high doses of these drugs. Ulcers may bleed more if the blood does not clot effectively. Other medications that can cause ulcers include chemotherapy drugs and medications for osteoporosis.
- Zollinger-Ellison Hospital: Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a rare condition. It is a syndrome that causes tumors to develop in the pancreas and small intestine. These tumors secrete a hormone called gastrin, which stimulates stomach acid production. Excess acid may cause ulcer formation.
- Crohn’s Disease: Crohn’s disease can also increase a person’s sensitivity, causing stomach and duodenal ulcers.
How is an ulcer diagnosed?
The symptoms of ulcers are often similar to those of other conditions, such as gallstones or gastroesophageal reflux disease. This is why it is so important to get a correct diagnosis. First, the doctor learns the patient’s medical history and current medications. He or she may also order a blood, stool, or breath test to check for signs of H. pylori infection. The tests performed are:
- Pylori Tests: There are several tests used to diagnose an infection caused by H. pylori. Stool testing is commonly used. The stool sample taken is sent to a laboratory for testing. Because H. pylori produces an enzyme called urease, a high urease level may mean there is an infection. If a breath test for H. pylori is desired, patients are given radioactive carbon to eat or drink. Afterwards, the breath is collected in a bag and examined.
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD): EGD is a type of endoscopy and may also be called upper endoscopy. The doctor performing the examination can see ulcers in the stomach or small intestine with the help of this camera. During this test, biopsies may be taken for fragment testing in the laboratory.
- Upper Gastrointestinal System Film: This method is a type of x-ray used to see the upper digestive system. It is made by drinking a substance called barium sulfate. Barium sulfate does not interact with the body, so it passes through the digestive tract, but it helps visualize internal organs on an x-ray. A series of x-rays are taken as the barium sulfate passes through the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. This can show if there are any abnormalities, such as an ulcer.
What are the types of ulcers?
Ulcers are painful open sores that heal slowly and may recur. It occurs especially in the stomach and duodenum under the name of peptic ulcer. However, it can rarely occur in other environments such as the mouth or legs. These:
- Gastric Ulcer: Gastric ulcer, also known as stomach ulcer, is the most common type of ulcer. These are open sores that occur in the stomach lining. It manifests itself in the form of burning.
- Duodenal Ulcer: These are wounds that occur in the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. Symptoms and treatment are often similar to gastric ulcer.
- Mouth Ulcers: These are open sores that occur in the mouth. They are commonly known as canker sores. Mouth ulcers usually go away on their own without treatment. If they become painful, they can be controlled with medications prescribed by a doctor or dentist.
- Venous Ulcers: These are open sores that usually occur on the leg, below the knee and in the inner area of the ankle. It occurs due to damage to the vessels caused by insufficient blood flow from the heart. Venous ulcers often do not cause pain. Treatment focuses on improving flow to the affected area.
- Arterial Ulcer: These are open sores that develop primarily on the smaller side of the arterioles and capillaries, mostly on the outside of the ankle, feet, toes, and heels. Arterial ulcers result from damage to the arteries due to lack of blood flow to the tissue, and healing can take a long time.
- Genital Ulcers: These are open sores that develop in and around the genitals. It usually occurs as a result of sexually transmitted diseases. However, it can also develop due to trauma or inflammatory diseases.
What are the Dangerous Consequences of Ulcer?
When an ulcer is left untreated, it can cause various complications. These complications present serious symptoms that can be life-threatening in some cases. Conditions that can cause ulcers include:
- Bleeding: If the ulcerated area is not treated, it causes serious bleeding. It is important to watch for signs of bleeding, such as blood in the stool, dark stools, or severe pain.
- Perforation: Perforations are holes in the organ lining that occur in the digestive tract. It is rare, but can be serious and lead to complications.
- Narrowing and Blockage: If stomach ulcers occur at the end of the stomach (pylorus), it can cause narrowing and blockage of the stomach outlet. If the ulcer is in the part of the duodenum that connects to the stomach, it creates inflammation that prevents food from passing. Duodenal ulcers can cause narrowing in the small intestine where they occur. Symptoms include vomiting, bloating, early satiety (feeling of fullness) and pain.
Ulcer Treatment Methods?
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the ulcer. Various medications are available to treat stomach ulcers. Treatment often requires the use of medications that either reduce the amount of acid in the stomach or protect the stomach and duodenum. A common type of medication used to treat ulcers is called proton pump inhibitors. These medications prevent the formation of stomach acids that can lead to ulcers. At the same time, the bacteria causing the ulcer can be eliminated with antibiotic treatment. Another factor that supports treatment is various changes in lifestyle. In severe cases, surgical methods may be used to repair the digestive tract lining. It is not commonly done, but may be required if there are complications such as bleeding or perforation. For ulcers caused by Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, surgery may be used to remove the tumors. This may also prevent tumors from spreading to other parts of the body.
What Should Be Done to Prevent Ulcers?
Ulcer wounds are a condition that can be prevented in some people with lifestyle changes. Things that can be done to prevent ulcers are:
- quit smoking
- Reducing triggers that can harm the stomach, such as fried foods and spicy foods
- At least 2 hours between eating and sleeping
What is Good for Ulcer Pain?
Overeating, gas and indigestion can cause increased ulcer pain. Therefore, other than doctor-prescribed painkillers, nutritional items that can be used to prevent mild pain are as follows:
- Probiotics do not kill ulcer-causing bacteria, but they can help treat ulcers by restoring the balance of good gut bacteria in the digestive tract. Consuming yoghurt and fermented products may help to maintain the health of the intestines.
- Flavonoids may help inhibit the growth of H. pylori, the bacteria commonly associated with stomach ulcers. This feature is that it acts as a protector by increasing stomach mucus. Particularly colorful fruits are rich in flavonoids.
- Chamomile tea may help relieve mild intestinal spasms and reduce inflammation and pain.