what stomach ulcers are, including the symptoms and prognosis:
Pictured above are the symptoms of a stomach ulcer according to doctors
Get well soon: Bruce Springsteen has postponed all his remaining 2023 concerts until next year as he recovers from a stomach ulcer (above, the singer performs on August 9, 2023)
The above image shows the stomach and the beginning of the small intestine. It also highlights the ulcers that cause stomach ulcers
What is a stomach ulcer?
The condition occurs when sores or ulcers develop on the lining of the stomach or on the upper part of the small intestine, medically called the duodenum.
Although the ulcers start small, over time and without treatment they can grow and burrow deep into the stomach wall.
Patients suffer from burning stomach pain, indigestion, bloating and heartburn, among other things.
In severe cases, the ulcers can also cause a hole in the stomach, causing acid and stomach contents to leak into the body.
Normally, the stomach – which contains very strong acid intended to break down food – is lined with a protective mucous membrane to prevent damage to the wall.
But in stomach ulcers, this lining is eroded, causing the acid to come into contact with the wall and cause ulcers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 350,000 Americans are diagnosed with the condition each year and there are 6 million people in the US with the condition.
Most patients are diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50.
Is peptic ulcer fatal?
Doctors say stomach ulcers themselves are rarely fatal, but the condition can lead to life-threatening complications if patients do not receive treatment.
A complication includes the perforation of the stomach wall or walls of the small intestine. A perforation is a break in the lining or walls caused by an ulcer eating a hole through it.
This allows acid and stomach contents to leak into the body, causing major damage to other organs.
The condition can also cause scar tissue to build up in the stomach or early small intestine.
Without treatment, this can cause an obstruction or blockage in the digestive system, which can quickly lead to severe pain, dehydration, infection and also perforation of the intestine.
There is also a risk of ulcers bleeding continuously into the body, putting patients at risk of anemia – or low red blood cell counts.
Research shows that nine percent of patients report a perforation, while three percent say they have an obstruction.
However, doctors add that in most cases where patients are treated, their symptoms can be relieved within a few months.
What causes stomach ulcers?
Stomach ulcers are usually caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which is estimated to be responsible for 80 percent of cases.
Half of all people have the bacteria in their stomachs, which they can contract by eating contaminated food or through oral contact with someone who has the bacteria.
Unlike many microorganisms, this bacterium can survive the acidic conditions in the stomach and settle in the mucus lining of the organ.
Devastating: The music icon, 74, shared an Instagram post on Wednesday announcing that all remaining tour dates for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band would be canceled per doctor’s orders
Hours before: And in August, the Born To Run hitmaker rescheduled shows in Philadelphia
Once there, it can disrupt the protective lining, allowing acid to come into contact with the stomach walls, causing a person to develop an ulcer.
However, doctors say that stomach ulcers can also be caused by overuse of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
These medications are available without a prescription and, when consumed frequently, erode the protective lining of the stomach.
This increases the risk of acid coming into contact with the stomach lining and causing the disease.
In some cases, the disease can also cause stomach acid to move into the upper part of the small intestine, causing ulcers in this area as well.
Studies suggest that excessive alcohol consumption and smoking also increase the risk of the disease.
How is peptic ulcer disease treated?
In most cases, doctors treat the disease by administering antibiotics to patients to kill the Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
Antibiotics will probably need to be taken for two weeks say.
This eliminates H. pylori and restores the mucus lining of the stomach. After antibiotics, it can take weeks to months for the ulcers to heal.
Almost all patients will also be given a medication that reduces acid production in the stomach to speed the healing process.
Patients will also likely undergo an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), a medical procedure in which an endoscope is placed down the throat and into the stomach.
This allows doctors to detect ulcers and, if they bleed, cauterize or burn their blood vessels, stop blood flow.
The American College of Gastroenterology says, ‘Most ulcers can be treated and will heal.
‘People with stomach ulcers often have to take medication for a number of weeks to heal the ulcer.
‘It is also important to correct the cause of the ulcer. If possible, NSAIDs should be stopped.
‘Patients with ulcers caused by NSAIDs should talk to their doctor about other medications that can be used to treat pain.’
In rare cases, where people do not respond to medications or have an obstruction, surgery will also be used to treat the disease.