What is ulcer?

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Ulcers refer to sores or holes in the lining of the stomach or upper parts of the gastro-intestinal tract. When the affected part of the tract is the stomach, doctors refer to them as gastric ulcers.  For the first part of the intestine, they are referred to as duodenal ulcers.  Many medical experts point to the imbalance of fluids and secretions within the gastro-intestinal tract as the most likely cause of ulcers.  The gastro-intestinal tract is lined with mucus for protection from its exposure to various fluids and acids that are formed and secreted for proper digestion.  Any imbalance in these fluids and acids or abnormalities in the protective mucus will cause the lining to form sores and holes which are called ulcers.

Most people with ulcerations in their gastro-intestinal lining will feel pain in the stomach area.  The pain may be only a discomfort at first but can be severe in worse cases of the disease. The pain is typically felt in between meal times or at night.  Some people with ulcers may also complain of bloating.  There are also ulcer patients who report of vomiting a lot because of the ulcerations in their stomach or gastro-intestinal lining.  When left untreated, severe cases of gastro-intestinal ulcers may present with severe vomiting which may include blood.  Some patients will also have very dark-colored stools while others will have significant and immediate weight loss.

Minor cases of ulcer are said to heal on their own without any medication or treatment.  Caution must be taken though by each patient in order to avoid complications by the possible worsening of the sores in the tract lining.  These sores or wounds can lead to serious bleeding, swelling, and eventual obstruction of the gastro-intestinal tract.  Ulcer treatment will depend upon the possible cause of the disease. If the ulcers are bacterial in nature, oral antibiotics may be given.  Other special medications may be given for patients with varying degrees or severity of peptic ulcers.

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