Stomach Ulcer Symptoms – Fact and Fiction

Stomach Ulcer Symptoms

Stomach ulcers can occur in the stomach, duodenum, and lower esophagus, which are pictured above.

One of the most interesting things I have discovered in the last few months is the misinformation surround ulcers in the stomach. The truth is that very little of the population knows even the basics about stomach ulcer symptoms, let alone their causes and how they are treated.

Did you know that diet and lifestyle is not a cause of stomach ulcers? Apparently neither is emotional stress. These are all wives’ tales and no longer are valid in today’s scientific community.

What we really think causes ulcers is actually bacteria. The particular strain is H pylori, and it lives in the stomach and messes everything up. It leads to ulcers and nearly everyone with an ulcer has an H pylori infection.

However, this is not the case for everyone as sometimes medication may ulcer cause ulcers. Now in the United States the FDA requires that the labels for NSAIDs have a warning message that they may lead to internal bleeding if used. This is because NSAIDs interfere with the body’s ability to produce the protective coating that lines the stomach and intestine. Without this coating, stomach acid and digestive enzymes then injure the tissue, leading to ulcer.

Even that does not paint the whole story though – some people seem to respond favorably to being infected with H pylori, as crazy as that sounds. It turns out some people’s digestive system actually has a symbiotic relationship with H pylori; infection leads to normal rates of stomach acid production, and when infection is removed they produce too much stomach acid, leading to heartburn and acid reflux.

The end result is that we really don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to ulcers. Proton pump inhibitors work well to heal ulcers, and combating H pylori infection seems to make ulcers go away. However, ulcers often come back and treating H pylori often just trades stomach ulcers for GERD, both of which are unpleasant conditions with potentially dangerous side-effects.

Hopefully when genetic testing becomes mainstream we will have an easier way of identifying which people should and should not be treated for H pylori, thereby minimizing occurrences of both ulcers and heartburn.