Ulcers are painful sores in the lining of the digestive tract. They develop in places where the lining of the stomach or intestine has been eaten away by stomach acid and digestive juices.
Ulcers can be caused by:
― An overgrowth of the bacterium Heliobacter pylori (H. pylori)
― Certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen)
― Hyperacidity related to genetics, lifestyle (smoking/stress), and certain foods
― Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (in which the body creates excess acid)
― Low melatonin levels (rare)
An estimated 4 million Americans have peptic ulcer disease, which includes ulcers in the stomach (gastric ulcers) and the small intestine (duodenal ulcers).
Ulcers tend to heal and recur, and if not properly treated, they can lead to serious health problems, such as internal bleeding, infection, perforation, and blockage of food through the digestive tract due to scar tissue.
It’s important to know the warning signs of ulcers so you can talk to your doctor about treatment before complications occur. The following symptoms may be warning signs of an ulcer.
Warning Signs of an Ulcer
Upper abdominal pain is a ulcer warning sign
You may feel a burning sensation come and go in waves, especially between meals.
Indigestion is a ulcer warning sign
Ulcers often cause burping, hiccuping, and gas pain after eating.
Bloating is a ulcer warning sign
A frequent sensation of fullness or heaviness in the abdomen between meals is a common symptom of ulcers.
Nausea is a ulcer warning sign
The imbalance of digestive juices caused by ulcers may result in frequent nausea, especially first thing in the morning.
Fatigue and fever is a ulcer warning sign
Flu-like symptoms in combination with gastrointestinal issues could be the sign of an ulcer.
Frequent vomiting is a ulcer warning sign
When an ulcer causes an imbalance of digestive juices, it may result in frequent vomiting after meals. If your vomit contains blood, it could be a sign of further complication from an ulcer.
Loss of appetite and weight loss is a ulcer warning sign
For some, the pain, nausea, and indigestion associated with ulcers causes a loss of appetite. This (or frequent vomiting) may also lead to significant weight loss.
What to do if you think you have an ulcer
If you think you may have an ulcer, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor will be able to conduct tests that will help determine the best course of action. The cause of your ulcer as well as where it is in your body will determine your treatment options, so it’s best not to try to treat it yourself.
How Precision Research Institute can help
At Precision Research Institute, we conduct clinical research trials on treatment of many different ailments, including gastric ulcers and ulcerative colitis (a disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine). If you are interested in participating in one of our studies, please give us a call or fill out the contact form on our web page. We have several locations around San Diego County, and we may be able to offer compensation and travel expenses to participants.
Your involvement can help us make great strides in the treatment of ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues.