Symptoms of Ulcers: Signs and Symptoms

Ulcers are painful sores that form in the lining of your stomach or small intestine. Common symptoms of ulcers include rectal bleeding, weight loss, abdominal pain, and indigestion, but these could also be due to other conditions such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease.

A peptic ulcer is the most common type of ulcer and can be caused by bacteria, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), or by stress, spicy foods, alcohol, or certain medications. Peptic ulcers are quite painful and usually cause burning in the stomach area, nausea, vomiting, and indigestion.

Ulcers are very common in both adults and children, but they can be difficult to identify. If you think you might have an ulcer, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment options. Read on to learn more about the symptoms of ulcers and what your doctor can do about them.

1. Abdominal pain/Epigastric pain

Abdominal pain is one of those classic symptoms that people tend to ignore until things get worse. If you’re experiencing abdominal pain (usually on your upper-right side, around your navel), then take a closer look at what might be causing it—and how you can relieve it. The symptoms of ulcers can start with mild pain in your stomach area, moving to discomfort after eating, and even nausea or vomiting.

In addition to abdominal pain, a person can experience some other common symptoms. The most common is a burning sensation in their upper abdomen that feels like acid indigestion or heartburn. The burning sensation can be felt at varying levels—from mild to severe—and people might describe it as sharp, dull, or cramping pain.

2. Gas- Symptoms of Ulcers

Believe it or not, gas is a common symptom of ulcers. After all, if you’re suffering from an ulcer or even a mild irritation in your esophagus, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to swallow comfortably. This swallowing difficulty can result in excess air being swallowed – so when you expel that air, later on, wind may ensue.

The feeling of excess air in your stomach can be quite uncomfortable, especially when accompanied by other symptoms. Always speak with a doctor if you have an ulcer, but it’s a good idea to watch out for excessive gas as well. Excessive burping and acid reflux (heartburn) are common signs that you might have an ulcer in your stomach or small intestine. If these symptoms don’t go away after two weeks, consider calling your doctor.

3. Vomiting

One of the primary symptoms of ulcers is vomiting. It’s common for ulcer patients to feel nauseous or vomit before getting sick to their stomachs. At first, it’s common for vomiting to occur after eating a meal, but eventually, it becomes difficult to eat at all without becoming ill. Doctors may prescribe medication or nutritional supplements in order to help manage nausea.

It may feel good to purge, but it’s unhealthy for your body. The more you vomit, the more dehydrated you become. The increased acidity can also cause damage to your esophagus over time.

4. Unexplained weight loss-Symptoms of Ulcers

One of the most common symptoms of ulcers is unexplained weight loss. Some people lose weight because they’re so tired from an inflamed stomach that they just don’t have time to eat, but others lose weight because they can’t keep food down. In either case, it may be a sign that something isn’t right with your digestive system.

Many people will experience unexplained weight loss at some point in their lives. However, unexplained weight loss that persists over time can be a sign that something more serious is going on. When you lose 5% or more of your body weight without trying, it’s best to see your doctor. This sudden loss could mean you have an illness like an infection or cancer.

5. Diarrhea

A common symptom of ulcers is diarrhea, which is a sign that your stomach acid has made its way up into your small intestine. However, it’s important to remember that not all diarrhea indicates an ulcer; some cases are actually caused by diseases like Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome. According to Mayo Clinic specialists, if you have over six bouts of diarrhea in one day, you may have an ulcer.

Because ulcers are caused by bacteria, bacteria can be present in your stool (i.e., feces) when you have an ulcer. Diarrhea is one symptom of ulcers, which could mean that you have an infection in your intestines that needs to be treated with antibiotics. These symptoms often go away as soon as you’ve finished a round of antibiotics, but if diarrhea continues after treatment, it could mean that you have a different illness altogether (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome).

6. Bloating

Swelling in your stomach can be caused by a number of factors, including ulcers. In fact, bloating is one symptom you should watch out for if you’re worried about having an ulcer. If there’s something wrong with your digestive system—whether it’s caused by a peptic ulcer or another health issue—you may experience more symptoms than just bloating, though.

Bloating can make you feel puffy, sore, or have trouble breathing. In some cases, these symptoms might be mistaken for a heart attack. Other common signs include an upset stomach that feels like indigestion—an intense burning sensation in your abdomen accompanied by nausea and vomiting. And if your ulcer is located near your esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach), you may also experience painful swallowing or difficulty swallowing fluids or food.

7. Nausea- Symptoms of Ulcers

This can be a sign that an ulcer is present. When you have an ulcer, acids in your stomach irritate nearby tissues, and your body reacts by sending out symptoms such as nausea to minimize further damage. The exact cause for ulcers is unknown, but stress can play a role—and it’s likely only one element in a complex network of events.

You may feel nauseous after eating, even if you haven’t eaten a lot. This can also happen with no warning at all. Your mouth might become so dry that it hurts to swallow. You may throw up or have diarrhea.

8. Decreased appetite

If you suddenly find that you’re eating less food than usual or skipping meals, it could be a sign that you have an ulcer. One of the primary symptoms is abdominal pain, which can occur anytime between your meal and three hours after your meal.

If you aren’t hungry when mealtime rolls around, an ulcer may be to blame. The first step in getting treatment is diagnosing your condition. If you suspect that an ulcer is causing your stomach issues, schedule a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. Once your physician confirms that an ulcer is present, he or she will start prescribing treatment options.

9. Heartburn- Symptoms of Ulcers

If you experience burning in your chest or stomach that travels up your throat, it could be heartburn. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux disease (GERD), which occurs when acid from your stomach leaks into your esophagus, causing irritation. It’s often confused with heart disease because it can cause chest pain, but it’s not typically a sign of cardiovascular trouble.

If you experience heartburn after eating or even at night, when you’re lying down, it could be a sign that you have an ulcer. Because an ulcer can cause inflammation in your esophagus, acid reflux (the technical term for heartburn) may become more common.

10. Undiagnosed Stomach Bleeding

Bleeding from an ulcer can occur without obvious signs or symptoms, but if you have untreated bleeding, you may have pain in your upper abdomen, vomiting or blood in your stools. This can be a sign that your ulcer is bleeding internally. Doctors call it silent or occult (hidden) bleeding. You might not even know you have an ulcer until it bursts open and causes pain in other parts of your body.

More than 100,000 people are hospitalized for bleeding stomach ulcers every year. Do you suffer from abdominal pain? Take our self-test to learn more about your symptoms and when to call a doctor.

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