Ulcers: Common Causes and How to Know if You Have One

As a practicing gastroenterologist and former dentist, Gutsy Products founder Dr. Doug Haghighi knows a lot about oral and digestive health in particular ulcers.

“Peptic ulcers are breaks in the lining of the stomach and small bowel,” Dr. Doug says. “There are two main causes of peptic ulcers: aspirin products, naproxen and ibuprofen, or bacteria called H. pylori.”

Ulcer symptoms can vary widely from individual to individual; some people have virtually no symptoms while others may experience nausea, vomiting with bloating, or severe abdominal pain. It’s interesting to note that eating can make some people suffering from ulcers feel better but make others feel worse.

“If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to discuss them with your health care provider,” says Dr. Doug. “Acid-suppressing medication can sometimes alleviate symptoms and help heal the ulcer.”

The most severe outcomes associated with a peptic ulcer include internal bleeding and at times, a hole in the stomach or bowel which may require emergency surgery.

Think you might have an ulcer? “Talk with your physician,” says Dr. Doug. “There are a number of tests available, ranging from a simple breath test, a blood test to detect the presence of H. pylori, to an upper endoscopy which allows a physician to evaluate the esophagus, stomach and beginning part of the small bowel using a scope and camera.”