How do I know if I have a stomach ulcer?

Commonest causes (over 50%) of ulcers are due to infection with Helicobacter Pylori, or use of anti-inflammatory medications, like aspirin and ibuprofen.

Symptoms of an ulcer can include the following:

- Burning pain in the top middle part of your abdomen - this is due to increasing levels of acid (hydrochloric acid and pepsin) causing inflammation of the lining of the stomach or small intestine, due to a break down of the protective factors within the gastric mucosal barrier. Food often makes the pain worse as this stimulates more acid production.

- Abdomen can feel bloated with increase in burping or flatus (from back passage) - due to increased levels of acid causing gas production.

-Nausea and vomiting with weight loss - increased levels of acid cause reduced appetite due to pain on eating.

-Reflux of acid into mouth especially on lying flat - caused by a weakened junction between the stomach and oesophagus (food pipe)
- dry tickly cough especially at night due to aspiration of refluxed stomach contents

- water brash - saliva fills the mouth due to reflux of acid

- Feeling of fullness (satiety) - due to bloating from increased gas production

- Vomiting of blood or dark tar like stools - bleeding from an ulcer within the stomach or intestine

- Iron deficiency anaemia - due to loss of blood from a slowly bleeding small ulcer

- sudden onset severe upper abdominal pain becoming more generalised across abdomen can be due to an acute perforation of an ulcer

- Ulcers within stomach and small intestine can also be painless, and relapse and remit. There is usually a history acid reflux symptoms.