December 29, 2010

Gastric Ulcer Symptoms

Gastric ulcers can be painful, and sometimes fatal if the symptoms are ignored. An ulcer occurs when the lining of the digestive tract becomes damaged, and a hole or tear occurs due to injury or trauma. An ulcer can happen anywhere in the body’s digestive system, but when it happens in the stomach, it’s labeled as a gastric ulcer.

Gastric ulcer symptoms are slightly different than ulcer symptoms located in other portions of the body. For example, eating doesn’t generally relieve pain as it might with other ulcers. In fact, eating may cause pain. The pain can be a dull ache located in the upper chest area, possibly below the breastbone.

Other symptoms of a gastric ulcer include:

  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss that wasn’t part of a planned diet program
  • Waking up in the night with pain. Only about 3 out of every 10 people with a gastric ulcer will experience this symptom, and it generally occurs 3 or 4 hours after dinner. Eating late meals will exacerbate it.
  • Vomiting, and vomiting blood, which may look like coffee grounds
  • Blood in the stool, which would look like a black or tarry substance
  • Some people may not have any symptoms at all

Causes

Gastric ulcers have a few causes, but one thing in particular is pointed to as the main cause,┬áHelicobacter pylori. H. pylori is a corkscrew shaped bacteria found in most everyone. It’s unknown why it causes problems in some people and not others. An H. pylori infection occurs when the bacteria grows in the lining of the stomach, causing it to be easily damaged by stomach acids and other digestive enzymes. An H. pylori infection is generally cleared by a course of antibiotics, followed by additional testing to make sure the infection has been eradicated.

Pain killers are another main cause of gastric ulcers. Pain killers stop the body’s production of an enzyme that protects the stomach lining, making it more susceptible to damage. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like Aleve and Ibuprofen as well as Aspirin and prescription pain killers can all be pointed to as causes of gastric ulcers.

Another thing thought to cause gastric ulcers is smoking. The nicotine found in cigarettes is thought to increase the presence of acids in the stomach, making the lining more susceptible to damages. Smoking also slows the body’s natural healing process, making it difficult to recover from an existing ulcer.

Alcohol can also erode the stomach lining. Although, it’s unclear if alcohol will actually go so far as to cause an ulcer, or just worsen an existing ulcer, it should generally be used in moderation.

Stress is another thing that can’t be pointed directly to as a certain cause for ulcers, but it will definitely worsen an existing ulcer. Stress is thought to be the cause of a wide range of health problems, so whether it caused your ulcer or not, it’s beneficial to try and get your stress levels under control. Reduce your stress by putting some instrumental or calming music on in the background at work, or enrolling in a meditation class. These techniques will help you relax and allow your body to heal much faster.

For more information on gastric ulcer symptoms, check out The Reflux Remedy Report at www.refluxremedy.com.

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