Gastric Ulcer Symptoms
An ulcer is not a pleasant experience, but like any medical condition, the success of treatment increases with your understanding of your own condition.
In this article, I will be going over all the gastric ulcer symptoms and reveal the most important things to know about this disease including exactly what it is, the risks associated with gastric ulcers, and the types of treatment you can expect.
Gastric Ulcer Symptoms
The symptoms of gastric ulcers are no different from other stomach ulcer symptoms. This includes:
- Burning stomach pain which typically peaks late at night (in the early AM hours) or on an empty stomach
- Nausea and indigestion
- Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
- Bloody, dark colored stool or vomit (see a doctor without delay if you experience this)
- Stomach pain improves after eating
As you can see, gastric ulcer symptoms are not much different from other types of stomach problems. Only medical testing can determine for sure what the cause of your discomfort.
Gastric Ulcers vs Duodenal Ulcers vs Peptic Ulcers vs Stomach Ulcers
Unfortunately for the patient, there is a lot of confusion between all of these terms especially given that gastric ulcer symptoms are similar to all these types of ulcers. Here is what this means:
- A Gastric Ulcer refers to an ulcer in the actual stomach
- A Duodenal Ulcer refers to an ulcer in the duodenum, which is the initial part of the small intestine which the stomach empties its contents into
- A Peptic Ulcer and Stomach Ulcer can refer to both types of ulcers and are used as a catch-all term.
As you can see, someone can be told they have a stomach ulcer when it really is in the duodenum. Only the term gastric ulcer conclusively states the location of the ulcer is in the stomach.
Risks of Gastric Ulcer Symptoms
The primary difference between gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers is that gastric ulcers occur in the stomach (as you already know by now). Why is this important? Because the duodenum contains many powerful digestive enzymes which are not found in the stomach.
In short, gastric ulcers form in the absence of most digestive enzymes (aside from pepsin, which is released in the stomach). This makes gastric ulcers actually rarer than duodenal ulcers and also means the root cause can sometimes be different.
While most ulcers are caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacterium, gastric ulcers are much more likely to be cancerous.
As a result, if you have gastric ulcer symptoms and a screening test (such as a barium chalk test) confirms that you have a gastric ulcer, there is a good chance your doctor will want to perform an endoscopy. This is especially the case if your ulcer does not respond to treatment.
This involves navigating a tiny camera down the patients esophagus (patients are sedated for this procedure) to examine and snip a small piece of tissue for biopsy.
Gastric Ulcer Treatments
Treatment of gastric ulcer symptoms depends on the root cause of the gastric ulcer. Most ulcers are caused by H pylori, the treatment of which consists of several antibiotics and a proton-pump inhibitor.
In the absence of H pylori, some sort of acid reducer or buffer is usually prescribed, as well as removing any irritating agents (like NSAIDs and Aspirin).
If you have gastric ulcer symptoms, only via testing can you tell for sure whether your symptoms are caused by an ulcer or rather simple gastritis or acid reflux.