An ulcer is a crater like sore usually 1/4 to 3/4 inch in diameter (can sometimes be 1 to 2 inches in diameter) and can form in either the lining of the stomach (gastric ulcer), below the stomach at the beginning of the small intestine in the duodenum (duodenal ulcer) or sometimes (but not often) in the esophagus (esophageal ulcer). Also the stomach and duodenal ulcers can be referred to as peptic ulcers.
An ulcer is caused because of an imbalance between the aggressive and defensive factors of a persons stomach and there are two ways in which this can occur. This first is where too much of the body’s digestive juices (hydrochloric acid and pepsin) have caused damaged to the stomach lining. The other and which is the more common of the two is when damage has been caused to the stomach lining in another way and it makes it susceptible to damage even by ordinary levels of the body’s gastric acid (digestive juices).
If a person who is suffering from a ulcer does not receive the right kind of treatment then further complications could arise. They may find themselves suffering from a bleeding ulcer in which the ulcer has eaten into the blood vessels and blood has been able to enter the digestive tract. Or they may even suffer a perforated ulcer and this is when the ulcer has eaten a hole in the stomach wall or duodenum and both bacteria and partially eaten food will be able to escape through this hole causing inflammation to the stomach as well as either narrowing or blocking the intestinal opening which will not allow food to leave the stomach and enter the small intestine.
The more common symptoms to look out if you have an ulcer are as follows:
It feels like a sharp ache between the breastbone and belly button.
Often the pain is felt only a few hours after you have eaten. However, this pain can also occur during the night or early in the morning at those times when your stomach is empty.
Sometimes eating a particular food or taking some antacid medication will help to take the pain away for a while.
You may find you lose your appetite.
In some cases people suffering from ulcers often complain of sudden, sharp stomach pains.
You may feel nauseas.
You might find yourself burping or hic cupping more frequently.
You may experience some weight loss.
Should you find yourself vomiting and there is blood in the vomit (or it looks like coffee grounds), then you need to contact your doctor straight away.
If you bowel movements become bloody or blackish in colour then this may well indicate a far more serious problem and you should arrange to see a doctor immediately.
If after reading the information above you think that you may have an ulcer then it is important that you make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. Unfortunately if a ulcer is left alone and allowed to grow then other more serious problems may evolve.