What Does an Ulcer Feel Like

What does an ulcer feel like? How can you know if you have an ulcer? When should you get concerned and make an appointment with the doctor?

Because ulcers are deep inside your digestive tract, it's not easy to diagnose yourself with an ulcer. You may experience various symptoms that will point to the fact that you have an ulcer, but ultimately a doctor will make the final diagnosis.

Symptoms of an Ulcer

  • Acid reflux: Acid reflux is an unpleasant regurgitation of stomach acid in small amounts, resulting in pain in the back of the throat, discomfort in the esophagus and embarrassing burping hiccupping.
  • Abdominal pain: You will probably feel discomfort in your abdomen, especially between your belly button and your breastbone. An ulcer usually feels like a burning pain in this area, deep inside your body.
  • Heartburn: You may also experience a dull ache in your chest.
  • Nausea: Most people with ulcers experience unexplained nausea, and sometimes vomiting, as part of the ulcer experience.

What Will Your Doctor Do if You Suspect You Have an Ulcer?
Your doctor will take measures to determine if your symptoms do indeed indicate the presence of an ulcer. All of the symptoms listed above have probably come and gone, although some may be persistent. Your doctor will conduct the following tests:

  • Upper gastrointestinal series: The doctor will take a bunch of x-rays of your esophagus, stomach and duodenum, looking for problems.
  • Upper endoscopy: If your doctor sees anything suspicious in the x-rays, your doctor will use a tiny camera on a flexible tube to look down your throat and all along your digestive tract, through your stomach and into the upper end of your duodenum.
  • PH probe: While the doctor is doing the endoscopy, he may also insert a wire that records the level of acid in your stomach.
  • H. pylori tests: Your doctor will also conduct a series of tissue, blood, stool and breath tests, all of which are designed to detect the presence of H. pylori bacteria in your system. H. pylori bacteria is responsible for the majority of ulcers.

What Will Your Doctor Prescribe if an Ulcer Is Detected?
Your doctor will most likely ask you to quit smoking, drinking alcohol and taking NSAIDs. You may be given antibiotics to clear out the H. pylori and prescribed acid blockers to prevent extra hydrochloric acid from being released as your ulcers heal. In serious situations, surgery may be required to repair serious ulcers.

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