What exactly are stomach ulcers?

When we experience pain in the epigastrium, we are frequently concerned that it is the result of peptic ulcer disease. A blood test can aid in diagnosis, but it will not detect gastric ulcers. So, why should a blood test be done when ulcers are suspected?

Gastric ulcers are mucosal defects that penetrate subsequent tissues all the way to the muscular membrane. It is accompanied by inflammation and coagulation necrosis. An ulcer is dangerous because it can cause hemorrhage or chronic bleeding, resulting in iron deficiency and anemia. Gastric and duodenal ulcers are common. It is estimated that up to 10% of the population, primarily men, suffer from peptic ulcer disease. Stomach ulcers can be asymptomatic or cause intermittent abdominal pain, which is why stomach ulcer tests are frequently used.

 Will ulcers be detected by a blood test?

A blood test will not detect stomach ulcers, but it will detect Helicobacter pylori infection.  It is a microorganism that colonizes the gastric mucosa in some people and is the primary cause of ulcers (responsible for 70-90% of cases of the disease). The blood test detects H. pylori-specific antibodies.

Blood tests can also diagnose  anemia  caused by bleeding ulcers. A decrease in red cell parameters in morphology indicates anemia. Indicators such as red blood cell count, hematocrit, hemoglobin, MCV, MCH and MCHC are taken into account. 

It is also important to note that H. pylori infection can be detected using a 13 C carbon breath test and a stool antigen test. Bleeding from ulcers can be detected not only by an abnormal CBC result, but also by the presence of occult blood in the stool. 

How are stomach ulcers diagnosed?

The most important test for diagnosing peptic ulcer disease is endoscopy – gastroscopy, which involves inserting a probe with a camera into the stomach and observing changes on a monitor screen. A sample can be taken for further examination during the procedure, and the bleeding can be stopped.

This is an important test because it allows you to rule out the possibility of cancer (gastric cancer) developing within the ulcer. The presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria can also be detected in the urea test using gastroscopy. The typical symptoms of the disease are also considered in the diagnosis of ulcers.

What are the symptoms of a stomach ulcer?

The first basic symptom that prompts the patient to seek medical attention is pain in the epigastrium (which severely limits functioning and reduces quality of life), which worsens during hunger, in the morning or at night, and 1-3 hours after a meal. Nausea and vomiting are also possible side effects.

If the nature of the pain is typical, the doctor will frequently prescribe pharmacological agents that can help right away, without the need for diagnostic tests. Additional tests should be performed if medications do not help or if symptoms return quickly after treatment is stopped.

Here are some tips to help prevent stomach ulcers:

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Limit your use of NSAIDs.
  • Get vaccinated against H. pylori.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Manage stress.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • See your doctor for regular checkups.

If you have any of the symptoms of a stomach ulcer, see your doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications, such as bleeding or perforation. (Google Bard)


Author: DoctorMaryam.org

4th Professional Medical Student. Karachi Medical and Dental College.

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