Every year, more than 4 million Americans visit the doctor regarding a stomach ulcer. Anyone can develop a stomach ulcer, but they’re especially common in women. At Gastroenterology Specialists of Orlando, board-certified gastroenterologist Robert Baker, MD, provides comprehensive care for stomach ulcers using advanced treatment techniques. To schedule an appointment at the Orlando, Florida-based practice, call or book a consultation online today.
A stomach ulcer is a painful sore that develops on the lining of your esophagus, stomach, or small intestine.
Your stomach has an extra layer of mucus that protects it from acid, but this lining can wear away over time. When this occurs, the digestive juices can eat away at your stomach tissues, causing the formation of an open wound.
Thanks to modern medical advances, it’s possible to treat stomach ulcers. However, without prompt intervention, they can lead to more serious health problems.
The majority of stomach ulcers occur for one of two reasons: an infection caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) or long-term, daily use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen.
You might also develop a stomach ulcer due to a rare condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome causes your stomach to produce excess acid.
The symptoms of a stomach ulcer vary depending on its size and severity. Telltale signs of a stomach ulcer include:
As a stomach ulcer progresses, you might also experience bloody vomit or vomit that’s dark and looks like coffee grounds.
To diagnose a stomach ulcer, Dr. Baker conducts a physical exam, reviews your medical history, and asks about your symptoms and lifestyle. To rule out an infection of H. pylori, he also orders a blood, stool, and breath test.
If these measures don’t provide enough information, Dr. Baker might also recommend an endoscopy, EGD, endoscopic biopsy, or barium swallow. A barium swallow is a diagnostic test where you drink a thick white liquid called barium. The barium highlights your small intestine, allowing Dr. Baker to better observe it using X-ray imaging.
Whenever possible, Dr. Baker uses conservative, integrative treatments to address stomach ulcers. For example, you might benefit from prescription medications like H2 blockers, taking a probiotic, or consuming a bismuth supplement.
If you have a severe ulcer or your ulcer doesn’t respond to conservative care, surgical intervention may be necessary. Dr. Baker might recommend removing the entire ulcer, tying off a bleeding artery, or cutting off the nerve supply to your stomach to prevent the production of excess acid.
To explore your treatment options for a stomach ulcer, schedule an appointment at Gastroenterology Specialists of Orlando. Call the office or book a consultation online today.