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Gastric ulcer: Incapability of the gastric mucosa

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By Abdoulie Khan
3rd year medical student (UTG)

UTG Medical Students’ Association

Ulcer is a break away of a bodily membrane that will reduce the function of that organ. The gastrointestinal tract is lined with mucosa in their lumen. This mucosa and other factors serve an immense role in protecting the lining of the gastrointestinal tube from damaging factors such as HCL secreted into the lumen of the stomach. A very common damage usually occurs on these protective factors which will expose the gastrointestinal lining to damaging factors. Gastric ulcer is a common form of peptic ulcer that affects individuals of all ages. This article will bring understanding on what gastric ulcer is, its causes, signs and symptoms, diagnoses, treatments and preventive measures.

What is gastric ulcer?

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Gastric ulcer is a form of peptic ulcer that arise as a result of damage on the stomach’s mucosa which protects its lining from acids secreted into the lumen during digestion. The Loss of the stomach mucosa will result in open sores on the mucosa due to over secretion of gastric HCL during meals. This will make it difficult to enjoy your food during meals as you feel difficulties when the food reaches your stomach. 

Causes

Several factors can cause the stomach mucosa to be functionless.

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Most common causes are;

1.         The Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) bacteria which causes infection on the stomach lining and damage to the mucosa.

2.         The use of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) pain medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin, particularly long term usage or over dosage.

Unusual causes;

1.  Stress also known as stress ulcers

2.  Diet, spicy food but has little effects

3.         Cigarette smoking.

4.         Alcohol consumption

Symptoms

o          Abdominal pain particularly meal times

o          Abdominal fullness and bloating

o          Loss of appetite 

o          Hematemesis which means vomiting of blood due to bleeding in the stomach

o          Waterbrash

o          Nausea 

Diagnosis

1.         The use of endoscopy which consist of a tube and lens dip into the stomach for inspection of any ulcer.

2.         Using gastrointestinal series

3.         Breath test – to inspect the presence of the bacteria H.pylori that causes stomach ulcer

4.         Blood test

Treatments 

Gastric ulcers can be life-threatening if not properly handled.

Important treatments such as;

o          Medications, depending on the condition of the gastric ulcer can be treated with antibiotics or proton pump inhibitors

o          Surgical procedures required when holes are present on the stomach lining

o          Life style adjustments such as reduce the use of alcohol consumption and smoking

Prevention 

o          Eat foods that are well cooked

o          Avoid the use of tobacco

o          Avoid alcohol

o          Be cautious on the symptoms of gastric ulcers

o          Use caution with pain medications 

Finally, gastric ulcer occurs as a result of the break away of the protective mucous lining of the stomach. It can be life threatening if not properly managed. Preventive measures are very critical in managing gastric ulcers, because it can affect anyone.

Thank you.

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