Ulcers

An ulcer is a sore that develops in the lining of the stomach or esophagus as a result of the presence of acid. The most common symptoms include burning pain in the abdomen or chest, often occurring between meals or early in the morning; nausea, indigestion, vomiting, fatigue, and bloody stool.

Ulcers can be caused by genetic factors, smoking, or chronic use of pain relievers. For many years, doctors thought ulcers were caused by factors such as stress, caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. It is now known that while these factors aggravate existing ulcers, they do not cause the ulcers.

Medication is often used to reduce stomach acid, allowing the ulcer to heal, however, these ulcers often return when the medication is discontinued.

Causes

For many years, it was believed that ulcers were caused by factors such as stress, caffeine, and spicy foods. Although these factors may irritate existing ulcers, they are often not the cause.
A bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) has been linked to the formation of stomach ulcers. H. pylori is a common infection found in approximately 30% of the general population. It is thought to be contracted via contaminated food or water. Common symptoms include nausea, gas, bloating, and burning stomach pain, although some patients report no symptoms at all.
The National Institute of Health has classified H. pylori as a level one carcinogen. This places H. pylori in the same category as smoking with regard to its role in the development of cancer. This makes detection and treatment of this infection imperative to maintaining your good health.

Diagnosis and Treatment

H. pylori causes inflammation of the stomach lining. This weakens the stomach’s protection against acid, thus causing ulcer formation.

Ulcers and H. pylori infection are diagnosed by a procedure called an upper endoscopy, where the doctor inserts a flexible tube through the mouth to view the lining of the esophagus and stomach. A biopsy may be taken to determine the presence of bacteria.

This procedure is done in an outpatient surgery center under mild sedation. The recovery period is usually one day or less.

If bacteria is found, your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics along with acid suppressing medication. The antibiotics clear the infection while the acid suppression makes you feel better. By treating the bacteria with antibiotics, the ulcer is permanently cured and medication is no longer needed.

Your doctor may ask you to follow up with a simple breath test to confirm the infection has cleared. This test is done at the Fremont Surgery Center at least one month after the completion of the antibiotics. With proper treatment, most ulcers heal without complication.

For Additional Information, Please go to H.pylori and Peptic Ulcer