Gastric ulcers, which are just as often referred to as stomach ulcers, are uncomfortable and potentially painful sores that can develop in the lining of the stomach. Stomach ulcers are a form of peptic ulcers, and thus anyone suffering from a stomach ulcer would fit the diagnosis for having peptic ulcer disease. Peptic ulcers are those that influence the stomach as well as the small intestine, both of which can adversely affect digestion.
Stomach ulcers and other forms of peptic ulcers are generally caused by something that affects the production of mucus in the lining of the digestive tract. Among other defense mechanisms, the stomach produces a thick sheen of mucus that helps to protect the stomach lining from the acids that are used to digest food and destroy pathogens. If this stomach acid comes into contact with the lining of the stomach, such as it does when mucus and bicarbonate production decreases, ulcers can develop. The most common factor that leads to the development of ulcers is a bacterium referred to as Helicobacter pylori. This bacterium produces inflammation in the colonized mucosa in many ways. H pylori increases gastric acid secretion and reduces duodenal bicarbonate secretion. The other leading cause of ulcers is over-consumption or long-term use of NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are over-the-counter medicines used to treat symptoms like headaches and joint pain. Other things can contribute to ulcers, such as excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking, but the first two factors are the most common.
Stomach ulcers can cause several unpleasant symptoms ranging from pain to nausea, and they can interfere with a person’s ability to digest food, leading to problems such as malnutrition. Fortunately, ulcers can be healed pretty quickly once they are recognized—it often only takes a couple of weeks for a patient to recover from an ulcer. Unfortunately, if ulcers are left untreated for a long time, they can develop complications and require surgical intervention. If you’re wondering about whether or not you have an ulcer, you might benefit from reading the following symptoms. However, if this is a concern you should seek medical consultation.
Symptom #1: Burning sensation in the Abdomen
One of the most common symptoms associated with stomach ulcers is a burning sensation. This burning sensation tends to arise in the abdomen in the area where the stomach is located in the upper half of your abdomen, towards the center (epigastrium). The exact location of the sensation will depend on where the ulcer is located.
Pain in the epigastrium generally occurs after meals (shortly or 2-3 hours later) and may wake up the patient at night (mostly duodenal ulcers). Food or antacids can provide relief for pain in duodenal ulcers. Every patient may have a specific daily pattern for pain.