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Is this Heartburn, Indigestion, Stomach pain, or Do I Have an Ulcer?

Gastric ulcers, otherwise known as stomach ulcers, are a disease where painful sores develop in the lining of the stomach wall. This happens as a result of a reduction in the thickness of tissues that covers and protects the internal surface of the stomach from the corrosive digestive juice that is excreted. The symptoms of gastric ulcers vary and depends on the severity of the ulcer itself. Common symptoms are burning sensation in the chest region, pain in the stomach, nausea, decreased appetite, vomiting, and dark tarry stools.

Although gastric ulcers are a very common disease that affects all age groups, there are certain facts that are relatively unknown about ulcers. These include the major causes, how that are effectively diagnosed and treated, and most importantly, the possible complications.

  • The major causes of gastric ulcers: The first major cause of gastric ulcer is the presence of Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that lives in the stomach of some people. The presence of this bacteria result in weak spots in the lining of the stomach, which in turn lead to gastric ulcers when it goes deep enough. Ulcers could also be as a result of prolonged use to anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen. Another cause which is very uncommon is Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome. This syndrome is known to cause the increase in the production of acid, which in turn damages the tissues of the stomach. ¬†Finally, in rare cases, underlying malignancy can cause ulcers which is why appropriate treatment and re-evaluation of ulcers is vital.
  • The diagnosis and treatment of gastric ulcers are determined by the level of severity. To aid in diagnosis, a GI doctor will first check medical history of the patient and also assess the symptoms experienced. The gold standard of diagnosis is undergoing an upper GI Endoscopy (EGD) which can identify an ulcer and allow proper biopsies to be taken to look for H. Pylori or tissue abnormalities. Treatment can also be done at time of endoscopy to start the healing process.
  • Gastric ulcers could result in severe complications if neglected.¬† When severe complications with gastric ulcers occur, it can be life-threatening. Complications that could arise include internal bleeding, perforation of the stomach, and gastric outlet obstruction. The only way to prevent these is early diagnosis and proper management.

Conclusion Gastric ulcers are a common disease with serious potential complications. Thus, one must take proper precautions and receive proper treatment. To do this, you need a good team on your side. At Gastroenterology of Greater Orlando, we are experienced at diagnosing, treating, and preventing future issues with gastric ulcers and their potential complications. To learn more, you can visit

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