Stress is one of the most common reasons people can develop ulcers. Health experts say an ulcer can develop in the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. “An ulcer is basically a compromised irritation to the liner of your stomach. It can be cratered or erosioned,” explained Tasha Sylva, a physician assistant with Lee Health.
Patients may experience ongoing stomach pain, heartburn or bloating. “If their symptoms are moderate to severe in intensity and it’s affecting their quality of life, a change in appetite, weight loss, black stools, I would recommend that they go to their medical provider for evaluation,” she said.
There are several things that can cause ulcers. One of the most common is stress, but other causes can be an infection, cancer, even prolonged use of over the counter medication like Advil, Tylenol or Aleve. “Spicy foods are notorious, acidic foods, alcohol, or tobacco can also induce ulcers as well,” said Sylva.
Ulcers can develop at any age, and if left untreated, they can cause other health concerns. “We do have some patients who present to the hospital who are anemic or the ulcer becomes a bleeding ulcer,” she said.
If a patient has symptoms it’s important they talk to their doctor about doing an upper GI. “The gastroenterologist will do an upper endoscopy which is a procedure to take a look inside your esophagus and into your stomach and see if there is erosion or an ulceration, and a biopsy which will give us more information regarding the ulcer,” said Sylva.
The quick procedure uses a camera to locate the ulcer and determine its severity. If a patient has an ulcer, doctors can prescribe medication and lifestyle changes to help treat and prevent future ulcers.
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