Ulcers are sores which are like a crater and are generally ¼ inch to ¾ inch in width, however at times they can become 1 to 2 inches in width. These sores develop in the stomach lining and are known as gastric ulcers, beneath the stomach at the beginning of the small intestine in the duodenum known as duodenal ulcers or less common in the esophagus and called esophageal ulcers.
Generally, ulcers in the duodenum as well as stomach are also identified as peptic ulcers. Without any treatment, these ulcers can enlarge as well as cause serious complications that may be grouped under the heading of “bleeding ulcer”.
Bleeding ulcers cause discomfort which is extreme in affected individuals. But although they are very painful, bleeding ulcers can be easily treated. Treatment of bleeding ulcers will subdue the discomfort of symptoms as well as allow the healing of the ulcers.
Bleeding Ulcer Symptoms
Most commonly bleeding ulcers may be present for quite a while or bleeding which is heavy can suddenly occur. Symptoms for ulcers include:
- Cramping pain
- Low blood pressure
- Intestinal upset
- Stomach discomfort
- Acid indigestion
People may use the term bleeding ulcer to refer to lesions which either perforates or creates a hole in the stomach or penetrates or create a hole in the intestine or nearby organ. Perforation can fill the abdomen with material from the gastrointestinal tract or it can block other part of the intestine and can lead to gastrointestinal obstruction. Symptoms of either of these conditions may include:
- Extreme stomach pain
- Vomiting blood
- Black colored stools
- Stools look like coffee grounds
Symptoms of bleeding ulcers include extreme pain of the stomach lasting from only minutes to hours, a pain like hunger in the navel often extending into the back and bloating with nausea after eating any food. Other common symptoms of bleeding ulcers can include a loss of appetite and weight loss.
Bleeding Ulcer Causes
All kinds of bleeding ulcers are very dangerous and anyone with ulcers is more at risk for bleeding ulcers if they:
- Drink alcohol frequently
- Take aspirin
- Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS
Contrary to popular long-held conviction, ulcers are not produced solely by diet and stress. Ulcers are actually in 80%-90% of cases are really caused by an infection caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori or H.pylori, that can interrupt the creation of the lining of mucous protecting the stomach, and leading to inflammation from the acid in the stomach lining. This bacterium is transferrable easily from one person to another, by sharing water or food as well as close physical contact, so if an individual knows they have it, they need to be careful and cautious about contact and hygiene.
Diagnosing an ulcer early usually can prevent this serious complication of bleeding ulcers. Treatment when early is important and ulcers which bleed normally happens when symptoms of an ulcer have gone untreated and been ignored.
Bleeding Ulcer Treatment
The initial step to treating an ulcer is by identifying it, otherwise an individual can run the risk of causing further damage to the by this time fragile stomach. If the primary care physician cannot positively diagnose the ulcer, or treatment has been ineffective, she/he will need to test the individual with an endoscopy of the upper gastro-intestinal tract, blood tests for bacterial predisposition or for heredity for ulcers, or a CAT scan.
To further treat ulcers, medication to reduce acid in the digestive system, relieve pain and boost healing will be advised. Antacids, acid blockers as well as “proton pump inhibitors” can most often be used to reduce acid. Acid blockers decrease hydrochloric acid in the system by preventing histamine from reacting with histamine receptors and signaling for the release of additional acid. Antacids, for instance Tums or Rolaids, basically neutralize acid which is already in the system and may be taken alone or with an acid blocker. A “proton pump inhibitor”, for instance Prilosec OTC, block the pumps which are inside acid-secreting cells. “Proton pump inhibitors” are the most often prescribed drug to heal ulcers.
The individual should discontinue taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs instantly. NSAIDs are usually used to treat inflammation or pain and are very popular because of their low rate of addiction. But NSAIDs can not only aggravate ulcers but can even cause them. They work counter to 3 things which are essential to getting rid of ulcers:
- Creation of the mucus that coats the stomach lining
- Creation of chemical bicarbonate that neutralizes stomach acid
- Blood circulation to the stomach that helps repair and renew damaged cells
For these 3 reasons, it is not a good idea to take NSAIDs in large doses or too often and it is really not good to take them if an ulcer has already been diagnosed.
Bleeding Ulcer Diet
A significant change in the diet is also necessary to heal ulcers. This does not have to be a permanent change, but it is essential for true healing. Since ulcers are caused by any damage from acid, acid cannot be a part of the diet. This means cutting out tomatoes and foods containing tomato products, no citrus fruit or foods containing citric acid and absolutely no alcohol.
Caffeine can stimulate the secretion of stomach acid and delay the healing of ulcers. So, more changes in the diet should be made to eliminate coffee, tea, chocolate, mint and soda.
If the ulcer is not treated properly, it will then rapidly worsen and become a bleeding ulcer. A bleeding ulcer means that this ulcer is eating a hole thru the wall of the stomach or small intestine and this is causing internal bleeding and putting the individual at serious risk of infection in the abdominal cavity.