Gastric ulcers occur when there is a break in the protective lining of the stomach leading to the erosion of the delicate lining of the stomach and intestines. The erosion results in a raw, open and painful sore in the stomach lining.
Gastric ulcers occur when there is an imbalance between the amount of stomach acid secreted and an enzyme called pepsin and the natural defenses of the stomach mucosal lining. The Helicobacter Pylori bacterium, a spiral shaped bacterium that lives in the acid environment of the stomach, can also be a cause of gastric ulcers. Obesity, smoking, and excessive use of anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin can also contribute to the development of gastric ulcers.
There are clear warning signs of the presence of an ulcer. Gnawing or burning in the upper middle stomach or even just beneath the breastbone that last anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours is one of the primary symptoms of a gastric ulcer. Many people, however, mistake this pain for heartburn because of its similarity. Others even mistake this pain for hunger.
The pain of a gastric ulcer may cause you to awaken at night. It may occur immediately following a meal or may occur some two to three hours later.
With some patients, the pain of an ulcer is relieved by food or milk and with others they may avoid eating in an effort to avoid the pain associated with eating.
The pain from a duodenal ulcer is typically relieved by food, but the pain from a gastric ulcer is usually exacerbated by food. There are many patients who report that a delay in eating will cause a more severe gastric ulcer pain. Based on what we know, these patients may likely be suffering from a duodenal ulcer.
Along with pain, other signs and symptoms of gastric ulcers include weight loss, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain that improves with milk, food or antacids, fatigue, and abdominal bloating. If an ulcer is bleeding symptoms may include tarry, foul-smelling stools and vomiting blood.
Although some of the signs and symptoms of gastric ulcers may be mistaken for heartburn, indigestion or even hunger, there are other signs such as the relationship of the pain from a gastric ulcer to food intake that make it much easier to decipher the diagnosis of gastric ulcers.
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