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We have all seen those old television shows where a character, usually a stressed out father figure or a harried boss type character, moans “Oh! If you don’t cut it out, you are going to give me an ulcer.” Generally these characters say that while clutching their stomach and moaning. Well, there’s a reason you generally don’t hear that on television anymore. Doctors have now found that peptic ulcers are caused by bacteria (and some medications), not, as once was commonly thought, by stress or a love of spicy foods in the diet. Still, peptic ulcer symptoms can be quite painful and dramatic, and if you or a loved one is experiencing intense abdominal pain and are not sure why, it is probably a good idea to visit your primary care physician and get screened for a peptic ulcer.
What is a peptic ulcer exactly? A peptic ulcer is an open sore that develops on the inside lining of your stomach. Imagine an open sore anywhere on your body. When it is touched, how do you feel? It hurts, right? Well, having a peptic ulcer – an open sore – on the inside of your stomach hurts when it is touched by food or stomach acids. That is why people suffering from peptic ulcer symptoms so often complain of abdominal pain. Sounds painful, doesn’t it? Well, guess what? Unfortunately, peptic ulcers are all too common in the United States. Some scientists have gone so far as to say that 10% of Americans have already been or will be effected by peptic ulcers sometime in their lives. That is a lot of peptic ulcer symptoms going around!
When you have an open sore say, on your hand, how does the pain feel? Well, a burning pain is the type of pain most commonly associated with peptic ulcer symptoms, so imagine the kind of pain you feel on an external open sore but on the inside of your stomach. Ouch! Peptic ulcer suffers commonly complain of several common peptic ulcer symptoms. For example, peptic ulcer suffers generally say that they feel the pain anywhere from their belly button to their heart. (This is why peptic ulcer symptoms are sometimes confused with heartburn symptoms. The two are extremely easy to mix up and one of the reasons why you should see your primary care physician if you are experiencing unusual abdominal pain.) Peptic ulcer symptoms also include pain that lasts from several minutes to several hours, pain that is worse on an empty stomach (this is because stomach acid has nothing to work on and thus comes into contact with the open sore), and pain that flares up during the night time.
So how do you treat peptic ulcer symptoms? Some sufferers of peptic ulcers swear by eating certain foods, such as milk, that they claim provides a buffer between stomach acid and the ulcer. For example, the peptic ulcer medication “Pepcid” (sold over the counter) uses an illustration of a milky substance coating the stomach in their marketing campaigns. Peptic ulcer symptoms may also disappear and return in a few weeks.
If you are suffering from a severe peptic ulcer, your peptic ulcer symptoms may include such extremes as vomiting red or black blood, observing blood in the stool (red or black), nausea and vomiting, weight loss, and unexplained changes in the appetite.
If you feel that you are experiencing peptic ulcer symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately. An ulcer is no laughing matter, and your doctor will be able to prescribe you the proper medication to cure your peptic ulcer symptoms once and for all.