Do you feel that your stomach is bloated with gas? Do you tend to burp a lot and have a burning feeling that radiates from the middle of the chest or from the pit of your stomach? This is a common symptom of a stomach ulcer and some people may mistake it for a heart attack. You can treat the symptoms with anti-acids. It gives immediate relief. The doctor may also prescribe H2 receptors or H2 blockers, medicines that reduce the acid produced by the stomach.
There are various causes for this feeling of indigestion or dyspepsia and it may be due to stress or due to eating spicy foods and junk foods with high salt and sugar content. It can also be caused by drinking alcohol, smoking or taking painkillers such as the over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs called NSAIDS.
Sometimes the discomfort and pain could be due to a tear in the tissue lining, the gastric mucosa, of the stomach wall, and the digestive juices and food will leak into the abdominal cavity. This is a perforated ulcer and will need urgent surgery to treat it. You may also want to undergo a breath test to rule out any bacteria called the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), which are responsible for most ulcers in the stomach and the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).
Your doctor may also advise an endoscopy to find out if there is a tear in the stomach wall lining. A thin plastic tube fitted with a tiny camera in front, will be inserted through the mouth.
First thing to do if it is not a perforated ulcer, is to change your lifestyle. Eat your meals on time; avoid foods that are fried, citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemon, and also tomatoes, tea and coffee, as it may make the ulcer worse.
(Information: Dr Rakesh Kumar, Specialist, Internal Medicine, Aster Clinic, Tecom).