Stomach ulcer, also referred to as gastric ulcer is a serious disorder that causes open lesions at the level of the stomach. Gastric ulcer commonly affects people with ages over 50 and it has the highest incidence in the female gender. Although there are many factors that can lead to the development of gastric ulcer, the disorder generally occurs due poor blood circulation in the lining of the stomach and an overproduction of digestive fluids. Infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria is also a major cause of gastric ulcers. These bacteria weaken the stomach walls, enabling gastric acids to cause inflammation and ulcerations to the mucosal protective cover of the stomach. In addition, Helicobacter pylori bacteria trigger an overproduction of digestive fluids, thus allowing the ulcer to progress further.
Gastric ulcer usually occurs in the region of the posterior stomach wall, in the proximity of the pyloric orifice. In the initial stage of the disease, the ulcer appears as a circular lesion with a diameter of 1-2 cm. In the absence of proper medical treatment, the ulcer can expand, causing a wide hole in the stomach wall. This complication is referred to as perforated ulcer and it is considered to be a medical emergency. Along with internal bleeding, perforated ulcer accounts for thousands of annual deaths in the United States.
The progression of gastric ulcer doesn’t follow an exact pattern. In some cases, the ulcer can evolve slowly, generating mild, almost unperceivable symptoms, while sometimes the ulcer can evolve rapidly, generating intense, ongoing abdominal pain and burn. When gastric ulcer evolves latently, doctors usually experience great difficulties in tracing and diagnosing the disease. Often, gastric ulcers are revealed long after they become serious, rendering people with the disorder susceptible to a wide range of life-threatening complications.
The most common symptom of gastric ulcer is abdominal pain. The pain is usually ongoing and it tends to intensify after meals and during the night. Some people experience such pronounced pain that they can’t even tolerate clothing. Constipation, nausea and vomiting are also common symptoms of gastric ulcer. Vomiting of blood is a clear sign of complication.
There is no specific cure for gastric ulcer in present. Although some patients respond well to treatments with antacids and antibiotics, others may experience a relapse soon after completing the course of medications. Gastric ulcer has a pronounced chronic character and most people are confronted with it for years. Multiple gastric ulcers are even more difficult to overcome and they require ongoing medical treatment.
Although gastric ulcer can’t always be cured, medical treatments can prevent its progression and alleviate its generated symptoms. Along with an appropriate diet, the medication treatments available nowadays can minimize the risk of complications.