Peptic ulcer is a hole or wound on the wall of the intestine. The degree of this wound and the associated pains are dependent on many variables. The extent of the symptoms presented varies from person to person.
Ulcers are usually found in two major parts of the digestive tract – the stomach (Gastric) and the duodenum, which is the tube linking the stomach to the rest of the small intestine (duodenal). The symptoms presented by each of the two are slightly different. While the pain associated with gastric ulcer comes up during food or immediately after food, that of duodenal ulcer starts between 2 to 5 hours after food, when the individual begins to feel hungry.
This condition is usually caused by a bacterium known as Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori), though other factors like alcohol, stress, drugs and genetics are believed to play some roles.
Symptoms vary from person to person. Some persons may present with mild indigestion to no abdominal pain, while others may show several symptoms. Some of the symptoms and signs common to peptic ulcer sufferers include the following:
1. Burning abdominal pain: This pain which is described as burning or gnawing is usually felt in the region between the xiphoid process of the chest and the navel, and may radiate to the back. Pain can either be much immediately after food, some hours after food or early in the morning on rising from bed.
2. Nausea and vomiting: There is the feeling to vomit or there could be actual vomiting. In severe cases the person may vomit up bright red blood especially in gastric ulcer, or vomit coffee ground vomitus (partially digested blood) in duodenal ulcer. Vomiting in most cases could be as a result of the irritation of the intestinal wall or due to the build up of ketone bodies in the blood following the breakdown of fats. This comes about as a result of the person not eating because of the fear of aggravating the pain.
3. Indigestion: This manifests in vomiting foods eaten several hours or days earlier. This may be followed by bloated abdomen or accumulation of gases (flatulence)
4. Blood in stool: The individual may also pass stool containing blood stain or may pass black, tarry stool. This in medical parlance is known as melaena. The blood becomes black following the action of digestive enzymes on it as it travels down the intestinal tract.
5. Unusual weight loss: The person may also lose weight because of not eating enough. There may also be weakness. This can be common with gastric ulcer since pain is aggravated by eating.
Since symptoms presented by different persons are not exactly the same, it is better to see a doctor before arriving at a conclusion at to whether or not one has an ulcer. There are other conditions that also present with the afore-mentioned signs. You need to be sure what the problem is before considering what to do about it.