Ulcers

Austin Primary Care Physicians -  - Internist

Austin Primary Care Physicians

Internists located in Austin, TX & Cedar Park, TX

Ulcers Specialist
Peptic ulcers, or breaks in the mucosal lining of the stomach, can be incredibly painful and even dangerous when left untreated. Despite the problems associated with stomach ulcers, as many as three-quarters of patients experience no symptoms at all, making it unlikely that treatment will be sought promptly. The doctors at Austin Primary Care Physicians in Austin, Texas, are experts in the detection and treatment of peptic ulcers.

Ulcers Q & A

What are the signs and symptoms of peptic ulcers?

In patients who exhibit signs and symptoms (about 25% who have ulcers), the most common symptom is stomach pain that patients often describe as burning. Other common symptoms include belching, bloating, intolerance of fatty foods, nausea, and heartburn.

Less common, more severe symptoms include vomiting, bloody emesis, difficulty breathing, unintentional weight loss, changes in appetite, and feeling faint.

When should patients see a doctor?

In addition to their annual physical examinations, patients should schedule an appointment if they experience any of the signs or symptoms of stomach ulcers.

What causes stomach ulcers?

The mucosal lining layer protects the lining of the stomach from damage caused by acid, but increased acid or decreased mucus can put the lining at risk of ulceration. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and the use of certain medications can cause ulcers.

Which risk factors are associated with ulcers?

Patients who smoke, drink alcohol, experience long-term stress, or eat spicy foods frequently are at increased danger of developing ulcers.

What complications can occur if ulcers are not treated on time?

Serious complications can occur including internal bleeding, peritonitis (infection in the abdominal cavity), and bowel obstruction.

How are ulcers diagnosed?

Diagnostic tools that are often used to identify ulcers include:

  • A blood, breath, or stool test to detect the presence of H. pylori
  • Endoscopy, which allows the doctor to look for ulcers in the upper digestive tract using a small tube and camera inserted through the throat
  • Barium swallow x-ray, which can make ulcers more visible on an x-ray and diagnose in a less-invasive way

How are stomach ulcers treated?

First, any risk factors that can worsen ulcers should be managed. This may include quitting smoking, discontinuing use of NSAIDs, changing diet, managing stress, or limiting alcohol intake. Also, one or more of the following treatments may be recommended:

  • Antibiotics to treat H. pylori infection
  • Proton pump inhibitors, which block the production of acid
  • Histamine blockers, which reduces the amount of acid in the digestive tract
  • Antacids, which can neutralize stomach acids
  • Coating medications that coat the stomach and small intestine to protect them from acid
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