What are Gastric Ulcers?

Gastric ulcers are a small exposed sore that forms in the lining of the stomach. Since the wound is open it will cause pain whenever stomach acids pass over the sore. Gastric ulcers are also called stomach ulcers and peptic ulcers.  Oftentimes stomach ulcers can be misdiagnosed as GERD (gastroesphageal reflux disease) because the symptoms are very similar.

Gastric ulcers are not the result of stress but are caused by excessive stomach acids. The stomach lining normally can tolerate these acids without any problems, but in certain individuals, the acids will start to eat away at the stomach lining creating the ulcerated sores. Certain behaviors can increase risk for stomach ulcers including smoking, excessive use of aspirin, aging, and heavy alcohol consumption.

Symptoms of gastric ulcers are similar to other medical conditions like GERD and heartburn. If you have frequent heartburn where you have a burning sensation in your stomach, you could have a stomach ulcer. After eating if you feel nauseated or have acid indigestion, you may have a stomach ulcer. If you vomit several hours after eating and notice blood in the vomit, it could be the result of a stomach ulcer. If you experience any stomach pains after lying down to go to sleep, or after eating, you could have a stomach ulcer. If you notice your bowel movements have blood in them or are very dark, it could be the result of stomach ulcers.

The only way to know for sure if you have gastric ulcers is through medical testing. Since the symptoms appear similar to frequent heartburn and GERD, it may be difficult to determine which one of these conditions you have without proper testing. Typically your medical provider will schedule an Upper GI series test. This test is a series of x-rays that are taken of the stomach, esophagus and sometimes the small intestine, after you drink a special liquid that helps to show stomach ulcers.

If you are diagnosed with gastric ulcers, there are many different treatment options available. In certain severe cases of stomach ulcers, the only treatment may be surgery to repair the damage.

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