When it comes to ulcers, there is often a lot of misunderstanding. People may think they are caused by stress, when in reality, the underlying issue involves an imbalance between stomach acid and natural protective layers of the gastrointestinal tract lining. With more than 25 million people suffering from chronic ulcer diseases worldwide, this is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly – but rather managed with both knowledge and caution. 

What are Ulcers, and What do they look like?

Ulcers are an incredibly common digestive disorder, appearing as raw and inflamed sores that line the stomach or upper intestine. They are caused most often by too much acid in the stomach or by the presence of a certain kind of bacteria. Ulcers usually appear as open sores surrounded by a red and inflamed patch of skin and can cause pain directly in the area where they occur. 

In some cases, ulcers can also be characterized by bloating, nausea, or vomiting. While it is important to get these checked out immediately with your doctor or healthcare provider, there are a few symptoms you can look for on your own such as feeling full after a meal, indigestion or heartburn, and frequent belching.

How Do They Form?

Ulcers form when the stomach acid that is meant to help aid in digestion becomes too intense, causing inflammation and damage to certain tissues within the gastrointestinal tract. This overproduction of gastric acid can scar and ulcerate, leading to a long list of uncomfortable symptoms, including pain, bloating, heartburn, and nausea. 

Fortunately, with proper management, it is possible for ulcers to heal over time. Targeted medications can be used to reduce gastric acid production and promote the healing of these ulcerative lesions. With an individualized approach developed by your healthcare provider, ulcers can be effectively managed to decrease symptoms and promote recovery.

What are the Symptoms of Ulcers?

Ulcers are generally caused by an imbalance in the normal acidity levels in the digestive system. Common signs and symptoms of ulcers include burning pain in the upper part of the stomach area, stomach upset or tenderness to touch, indigestion after meals, or a feeling of fullness during and after eating. 

Interestingly enough, ulcer symptoms can vary based on what time of day they occur - night-time ulcer pain is often worse than those experienced during the day. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms that seem to worsen after consuming food and beverage, it is recommended that you consult with a doctor to check for ulcers.

How are Ulcers Treated and Removed?

Treating ulcers usually involves a multi-faceted approach that supports digestion, reduces inflammation, and promotes ulcer healing. This can include medications such as antibiotics to fight ulcer-causing bacteria, proton pump inhibitors to reduce stomach acid, and lifestyle changes such as reducing stress and avoiding certain foods. 

As ulcers can cause pain and discomfort in the digestion process, it is important to consider their removal as a way to return to full gastrointestinal health. The procedures involved with ulcer removal will depend on whether they are benign or cancerous ulcers, and the doctor may choose to perform a biopsy or endoscopy.

In some cases, medications may be prescribed for ulcers. Medications have been found to work exceptionally well for ulcers caused by ulcerative colitis or Helicobacter Pylori infection

Surgery may be recommended in some cases where ulcers are particularly severe or have not responded to existent treatments. During surgery, the ulcer is removed from the stomach or intestine walls and closed with sutures to reduce further irritation. Doing so can allow for a return to normal digestive function and ease of ulcer symptoms.

Surgery should only be considered as a last resort, however, can be helpful in removing ulcers that result from structural damage within the stomach wall. No matter your situation, make sure that you speak with your doctor about all of your options to ensure the safest and most effective ulcer removal possible.

What is the Long-term Outlook for Someone with an Ulcer?

An ulcer is generally a short-term issue requiring treatment with antibiotics and other medicines to promote healing. With the right investigative approach and adherence to the prescribed treatment, ulcers can be eliminated from your system, freeing you from their unpleasant and sometimes debilitating symptoms. 

But if left unchecked, ulcers can cause more serious complications, like abscesses that create deep wounds in the tissue of your digestive tract, causing infections. This can also lead to malnourishment due to pain or difficulty digesting food, so long-term outlooks without proper ulcer treatment can be grim. For a healthier ulcer-free pathway forward, be sure to share any potentially relevant symptoms or complaints with your doctor at once.

Can you Prevent Ulcers from Forming in the First place?

Practicing good gastrointestinal health is key to preventing ulcers, as ulcers are typically caused by prolonged irritation of the stomach lining. To take preventive action, start with the basics-- eating a well-balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly have proven beneficial when it comes to ulcer prevention. 

Additionally, limiting stress (emotional and environmental) is an essential factor in avoiding ulcers. Lastly, limiting alcohol consumption as well as reducing the overuse of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also helps promote good digestion and ulcer prevention. All these measures together can be a powerful deterrent against ulcer outbreaks for years to come!

Find Help for Ulcers and other digestive issues at Digestive Health Partners

We encourage you to contact us and set up an appointment to help diagnose and help you find the best treatment plan for managing your gut health.