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Pain and Bloating: Is it Indigestion or a Stomach Ulcer?

Did you know that both indigestion and stomach ulcers have many of the same symptoms? If you’re suffering from chronic pain and bloating, it could be difficult to know what’s causing your discomfort. 

Because telling the difference between the two can be difficult, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. The compassionate providers at Prima Medicine in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, are experienced at diagnosing and treating both stomach ulcers and indigestion. 

While it’s important to be seen and diagnosed by a medical professional, there are signs you can watch for that may indicate one condition or the other.

What is indigestion and what is an ulcer?

A lesion or sore that develops on the lining of your stomach or in the first part of your small intestine is called an ulcer. Ulcers are usually caused by the bacterium H. pylori or by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications, such as ibuprofen. A lesion can get aggravated by your stomach acid and causes pain and other symptoms.

Indigestion or dyspepsia, on the other hand, describes a chronic or recurring pain in your upper abdomen. Indigestion can be caused by many things, including stress, eating too much, taking certain medications, or having an underlying condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or gallbladder disease. 

How can I tell if I have indigestion or an ulcer?

It’s important to receive an accurate diagnosis for the cause of your pain, bloating, and other symptoms to ensure you get the right treatment. Your doctor at Prima Medicine will help diagnose and treat the root cause of your symptoms.

Symptoms of indigestion

While there is some overlap, and indigestion can sometimes be caused by a stomach ulcer, here are some of the most common symptoms of indigestion:

Symptoms of an ulcer

Stomach ulcers may also cause bloating, stomach pain, and a burning sensation in your upper abdomen, but there are a few key differences. Here’s a closer look at the most common symptoms of a stomach ulcer:

What should I do if I suspect indigestion or a stomach ulcer?

The first step you should take if you think you may have chronic indigestion or a stomach ulcer is make an appointment with Prima Medicine. Our goal is to provide you with relief from the unpleasant symptoms that both conditions can cause as well as keep you healthy by working to prevent further complications.

To arrive at a diagnosis, your Prima Medicine team member will evaluate your medical history and symptoms and conduct a comprehensive physical exam. Your provider may also order a stool test, breath test, and blood work. 

Your provider may also order an endoscopy, in which a flexible tube is inserted through your throat, down your esophagus, and into your stomach to take images and samples. Once your diagnosis is confirmed, your Prima Medicine provider will work with you to create a customized plan to treat your indigestion or ulcer issues.  

If you’re suffering from chronic indigestion or the symptoms of a stomach ulcer, we can help get you well. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today. We can also schedule telehealth appointments.

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