An in-depth report on the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of stomach and gastrointestinal (GI) ulcers.
Duodenal ulcers; Gastric ulcers; Helicobacter pylori; H. pylori
Dyspepsia. The most common symptoms of peptic ulcer are known collectively as dyspepsia. However, peptic ulcers can occur without dyspepsia or any other gastrointestinal symptom, especially when they are caused by NSAIDs. Dyspepsia may be persistent or recurrent and can lead to a variety of upper abdominal symptoms, including:
Many patients with the above symptoms do not have peptic ulcer disease or any other diagnosed condition. In that case, they have what is called functional dyspepsia.
Ulcer Pain. Some symptoms are similar to those of gastric ulcers, although not everyone with these symptoms has an ulcer. The pain of ulcers can be in one place, or it can be diffuse (all over the abdomen). The pain is described as a burning, gnawing, or aching in the upper abdomen, or as a stabbing pain penetrating through the gut. The symptoms may vary depending on the location of the ulcer:
Ulcer pain may be particularly confusing or disconcerting when it radiates to the back or to the chest behind the breast bone. In such cases it can be confused with other conditions, such as a heart attack.
Because ulcers can cause hidden bleeding, patients may experience symptoms of anemia, including fatigue and shortness of breath.
Severe symptoms that begin suddenly may indicate a blockage in the intestine, perforation, or hemorrhage, all of which are emergencies. Symptoms may include:
Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms should go to the emergency room immediately.
Peptic ulcers may lead to emergency situations. Severe abdominal pain, with or without evidence of bleeding, may indicate that the ulcer has perforated the stomach or duodenum. Vomiting of a substance that resembles coffee grounds or the presence of black tarry stools may indicate serious bleeding.
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