When the lining of your stomach becomes compromised, normal acids that aid in daily digestive functions eat away at the vulnerable, injured area. The lesion that forms — called an ulcer — can be as small as a quarter of an inch to as large as 2 inches in diameter. Severe pain and discomfort are the earliest symptoms. Stomach acid is allowed to continuously erode into underlying blood vessels if the ulcer is left untreated, which can cause bleeding that seeps into the digestive tract. The result: a bleeding ulcer that is a serious health threat requiring immediate treatment.
Determine the Underlying Cause of the Bleeding Ulcer
- Determine if you have H. pylori bacteria in your system.
- H. pylori is a harmful bacterium that preys on weak areas of the digestive tract. It eats away at the protective mucus that coats the stomach. The newly created vulnerable spot in the stomach is irritated by stomach acid and H. pylori forming an ulcer. Many people have H. pylori bacteria but do not have ulcers. H. pylori — coupled with the wrong lifestyle choices and diet — are the main cause of most ulcers.
- Know that long-term use of anti inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen weaken the lining of the stomach, making it vulnerable to ulcer formation.
- Understand that cigarette smoking raises your risk to develop a peptic ulcer, which, left untreated, can metamorphose into a bleeding ulcer.
- Nicotine raises stomach acid production, which can erode the stomach lining or further deteriorate an existing ulcer to cause a bleeding ulcer.
- Realize that caffeine has a negative impact on your digestive functions.
- Like nicotine, caffeine spurs stomach acid production.
- Consider the affect alcohol has on your ulcer.
- Alcohol — especially when consumed en masse and often — weakens the stomach lining making it susceptible to acid and harmful bacteria.
Use Medicines to Treat the Cause of Your Bleeding Ulcer
- Kill the H. pylori bacteria with antibiotics.
- A mix of at least 2 antibiotics are used to completely eradicate the H. pylori bacteria in the body.
- Take acid blockers to inhibit the production of stomach acids, which erode existing ulcers to create bleeding ulcers.
- Ingest antacids daily to neutralize the stomach acid that is produced.
Consider Less-Invasive Techniques to Treat a Bleeding Ulcer
- Realize that surgery to treat a bleeding ulcer is usually an in-patient procedure, but outpatient endoscopy can be performed on less severe bleeding ulcers.
- Undergo an endoscopic procedure to find the source of the bleeding ulcer and to treat the bleeding ulcer in a minimally-invasive way.
- An endoscope is a lighted tube that is inserted into the body. Equipped with a camera, the endoscope allows a surgeon to find the source of the bleeding ulcer.
- Know the main ways an endoscope is used to stop a bleeding ulcer.
- Cautery is used to heat seal the bleeding ulcer.
- Electricity is used to generate heat to close the bleeding ulcer.
- Endoscopic clips are utilized to reform the damaged area of stomach lining due to a bleeding ulcer.
Undergo Major Surgery to Treat a Bleeding Ulcer
- Expect major surgery to fix large bleeding ulcers that do not respond to endoscopic procedures.
- Learn about the 3 major types of surgeries used to treat bleeding ulcers.
- In a vagotomy, the vagus nerve — the nerve that connects the stomach to the brain — is severed. This interrupts the messages the brain sends to the stomach to produce stomach acid.
- An antrectomy procedure removes the lower portion of the stomach to inhibit the production of stomach acid.
- In a pyloroplasty, the lower stomach is widened to allow food to process more easily into the small intestine.
Change Your Lifestyle to Avoid a Recurrence of Bleeding Ulcers
- Avoid nicotine and alcohol consumption to reduce stomach acid production and to maintain your protective stomach lining.
- Reduce the amount of caffeine you consume to eliminate excess acid in your stomach.
- Wash hands often to discourage H. pylori bacterium from inhabiting your body.
- Take antacids routinely to keep stomach acid neutralized.
- Monitor your symptoms if you have a peptic ulcer. Unexplained vomiting or diarrhea are symptoms of a bleeding ulcer.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect you have a bleeding ulcer.
- Stop taking ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs as these drugs will worsen a bleeding ulcer.
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