Warning Signs Of Peptic Ulcer Disease

Peptic ulcer disease occurs when an individual experiences the perpetual development of peptic ulcers. These ulcers present as open sores, which develop on the lining of the stomach and in the small intestine. There are two types of peptic ulcers: gastric and duodenal. Gastric ulcers develop on the inside lining of the stomach, whereas duodenal ulcers affect the upper part of the small intestine. 

Peptic ulcers may be caused by a variety of things, including a bacterial infection, long-term use of anti-inflammatories, stress, and even excessive consumptions of spicy foods. Individuals who smoke or consume excessive amounts of alcohol are also at an increased risk of developing peptic ulcers. 

Intolerance To Fatty Foods

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Food affects each body differently. While doctors say there is no specific diet individuals with peptic ulcer disease should follow, it has been noted patients who suffer from this disease may have an intolerance to fatty foods. Fatty foods include things high in fats, whether they are bad fats or even good fats, such as avocados, nuts, certain types of fish, oils, and dairy. While many of these foods have great health benefits, certain bodies cannot break them down well. Fat can be moved quickly through the digestive system, overstimulating the intestine and causing inflammation, which can further lead to the development of peptic ulcers.

Heartburn

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Heartburn is another tell-tale warning sign of peptic ulcer disease, though it can also simply indicate a bout of indigestion. While most individuals will experience it at points throughout their lifetime, especially as they age, if heartburn occurs regularly, it can be a sign of peptic ulcer disease. This symptom is characterized by an uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest and the back of the throat. It often causes bitter or sour tastes in the mouth, as well, which is attributed to increased acid production. 

While it does not negatively affect your health- it does not actually have anything to do with the heart- the constant worry of discomfort can certainly negatively impact a person's quality of life. Heartburn typically occurs after eating a big meal or after consuming certain types of food, such as fats, acidic foods, and spicy food.

Bloating

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Everyone also experiences this throughout their lives, most typically after eating. It occurs in the abdominal cavity when the gastrointestinal tract is filled with air (from swallowing) or gas (from the food breakdown process). It causes a person to feel uncomfortably full and can cause the belly to feel swollen and sometimes hard. Bloating can be painful and also lead to excessive flatulence. In patients with peptic ulcer disease, bloating is caused by an irritation in the stomach or intestines. Like the above-mentioned symptoms, it can be caused by eating certain types of food in conjunction with the presence of stomach or intestinal ulcers.

Excessive Belching

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All human bodies belch. It is a necessary function for passing gas out of the body. However, peptic ulcer disease can cause it to happen excessively. Patients who experience excessive belching may also feel a burning sensation, associated with acid reflux, after consuming a big meal containing fatty, spicy, or acidic foods. However, excessive belching in patients with peptic ulcer disease can also occur throughout the day. 

This is because the disease strongly impacts the digestion process, interfering with the functioning of the stomach and the intestines. When the lining of the stomach or upper intestine becomes inflamed, gas becomes stuck and must be projected back up and out through the esophagus and mouth. While the symptom is not necessarily problematic in and of itself, it can cause discomfort and embarrassment and should be discussed with a doctor.

Stomach Pain

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This is the most common warning sign and symptom of peptic ulcer disease. Stomach pain can present as increased pressure or a burning sensation, associated with the increased amount of stomach acid released to aid the halted digestive process. Patients with this disease may feel the pain most intensely on an empty stomach, when acid is inappropriately trying to break down substances that are not there. Stomach pain can be relieved by avoiding certain foods, but it can also be helped by adding certain 'buffering' foods to one's diet. These include berries, leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, garlic, honey, and probiotic-heavy foods that can fight bacteria.

Nausea & Vomiting

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If the patient is experiencing difficulty eating or drinking due to the pain caused by the peptic ulcer, be mindful of dehydration, as if they are not retaining enough liquid in their body, they can suffer from it as a consequence. Beyond feeling nausea, some patients vomit as well, especially vomit that is bloody or resembles coffee grounds due to the peptic ulcer, so keep a watch out for these signs too. Some common signs of dehydration to look out for include fatigue, mood swings, a dry mouth, cool skin, eyes appear sunken-in, less frequent urination, and urine that is a dark yellow or a darker color. 

To prevent and treat dehydration that occurs due to nonstop vomiting and nausea, try to drink something, so the body can absorb some nutrients. Some liquids to drink include water, sports drinks (due to the electrolytes), some herbal teas, and oral rehydration solutions. Stick with clear liquids to be safe and after several hours, try ingesting clear broth, cranberry juice, apple juice, popsicles, and ginger. Ginger, in particular, is a well-renowned natural remedy that helps to reduce stomach pain and nausea, as well as acupressure applied to the groove between the two large tendons on the inside of the wrist.

Changes In Weight

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Often, patients who are dealing with a peptic ulcer experience either rapid weight gain or loss in a short amount of time. This is often due to either the pain caused by peptic ulcer disease or the changes in eating habits they may experience. Not wanting to eat due to pain and feeling full quite easily, and avoiding meals are three reasons why some individuals may lose weight when suffering from peptic ulcer disease, while on the flip side, duodenal pain may improve when eating, drinking, or taking antacids, and may cause an individual to gain weight with this condition. 

Unfortunately, the pain and discomfort are characterized as a gnawing or burning sensation in the abdomen, and antacids may only provide temporary relief. Gastric ulcer pain is generally aggravated by eating, especially spicy foods, therefore certain foods that cause discomfort should be avoided until this condition is properly treated.

Anemia

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Peptic ulcers are open sores that occur in the stomach’s lining or intestines and are categorized as gastric ulcers or duodenal ulcers due to their location. These ulcers are often caused by a bacterial infection that breaks down the lining in the stomach or small intestines. Unfortunately, peptic ulcers can lead to anemia due to the internal bleeding they create, and bleeding ulcers can go unnoticed for some time, and may even cause life-threatening hemorrhages. 

Many patients are not even aware that the ulcer is bleeding until symptoms of anemia appear, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, a lack of energy, lightheadedness, and pale skin. A heavily bleeding ulcer may cause black and sticky stools and bloody vomit that looks like coffee grounds. If a patient is experiencing any of these symptoms and they have peptic ulcer disease, they should seek medical attention immediately.

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