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Prima Medicine -  - Internal Medicine

Prima Medicine

Internal Medicine & Family Medicine located in Fairfax, VA, South Riding, VA & Merrifield, VA

About 1 out of 10 Americans will experience the burning pain of a gastric ulcer at some point in their life. While unpleasant, treatments are available, and it is important to seek proper medical care. The team of doctors and nurse practitioners at Prima Medicine in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, are experienced at diagnosing and treating ulcers. Call or go online today to schedule your appointment, and learn how to get the relief that you need.

Ulcers Q & A

What is an ulcer?

Your stomach and duodenum, the first part of your small intestine, contain a protective lining that shields them from the acids and enzymes that live in your stomach. An ulcer is a hole or a break in this lining, allowing your stomach acid to come into contact with and damage the stomach or duodenum.

What causes an ulcer?

Conventional wisdom often claims that stress and spicy food causes ulcers. However, while scientific support for this is limited, these factors likely contribute to making an ulcer worse.

A bacteria called h. pylori is actually responsible for the majority of ulcers. In addition, certain medications such as ibuprofen can damage the lining of your stomach or duodenum that can develop into an ulcer.

Overuse of alcohol can also cause or worsen ulcers. Ulcers more commonly occur in people as they age.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of an ulcer include:

  • Burning upper abdominal pain
  • Pain that is worse in the mornings or between meals
  • Heartburn
  • Black or bloody stools
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn

None of these symptoms are pleasant. If you experience any of them, it is important to seek professional medical care, as treatments are available.

How are ulcers diagnosed?

The first step to finding relief is to properly diagnose the symptoms that you are experiencing. The team at Prima Medicine employ a variety of methods to determine if you have an ulcer, and, if so, what’s causing it.

A doctor or nurse practitioner starts by performing a thorough medical exam and gathering a complete medical history. They will probably order tests of your stool, breath, and/or blood to look for signs of h. pylori infection.

In some cases, an endoscopy will be necessary. An endoscopy is a procedure where a flexible tube is inserted through the throat and down the esophagus into the stomach to collect tissue samples and to take pictures.

How are ulcers treated?

Many treatments are used against an ulcer. These vary depending on the ulcer’s cause. In patients that have an h. pylori infection, antibiotics are used to eliminate the bacteria, allowing the ulcer to heal.

Medications that reduce acid levels in the stomach can be very effective at allowing an ulcer to heal.

In severe cases, surgery can be performed to treat the ulcer. Certain lifestyle changes can help heal an ulcer, such as refraining from drinking alcohol, eliminating spicy foods, and reducing stress.

Call or go online today to schedule an appointment with the team of experts at Prima Medicine.