Heartburn ulcers are evaluated by doctors and depending on the cause behind its development different treatments are prescribed as follows
- For ulcers related to H. pylori infection, a course of treatment with a three- or four-drug combination of antibiotics and anti-ulcer medications
- For ulcers related to NSAID use, the usual treatment is to stop the NSAID or decrease the dose.
- Anti-ulcer medications, if symptoms do not go away after stopping the NSAID.
- If the NSAID cannot be stopped, then anti-ulcer medications and medications to protect the stomach lining may be used
The treatment is further complemented by the following lifestyle changes that reduce or eliminate some risk factors associated with ulcers
- Stop smoking
- Reduction or elimination of alcohol intake
- Prohibited or limited consumption of foods and beverages that trigger heartburn symptoms
- Eat smaller diets
- Take antacids to relieve occasional severe symptoms after consulting a doctor
- Monitoring current medications and opting for alternatives based on physician’s advice.
In some severe cases surgery becomes the only option in treating the ulcer.
Development of Heartburn ulcers
Heartburn is the burning sensation that occurs in the chest due to reflux of stomach acids back into the esophagus. Heartburn occurs as a result of irregular and unhealthy eating habits, certain medical conditions such as pregnancy, or as a result of certain medications. When the lining of the esophagus deteriorates due to the effects of the stomach acid that has been repeatedly refluxed into the esophagus heartburn ulcers occur. These are holes that are burnt through the lower section of the esophagus due to the corrosive effect the acid.
Causes of heartburn ulcer
H. Pyloridus bacteria – A huge amount of H. Pyloridus bacteria found in the stomach are brought into contact with the esophagus due to repeated acid reflux. It begins eating away at the esophagus lining and thereby paving the way for a heartburn ulcer.
- continuous usage of anti-inflammatory medications
- smoking and use of cigarettes and nicotine products as well as tobacco chewing
- The digestive disorders of GERD and Bulimia
Complications caused by heartburn ulcers
When heartburn ulcers erode the lining of the esophagus, bleeding may occur leading to iron deficiency anemia.
Diagnosis of heartburn ulcer
Heartburn ulcers can be diagnosed using the following tests done by a gastroenterologist
- Gathering of patient’s family and medical history, lifestyle – Acid-blocking medication may be prescribed for four weeks ad if ulcers heal within this period no further testing may be needed.
- Tests for Gastrointestinal bleeding – This consists of
- a rectal examination
- a complete blood count test
- blood tests to check for the presence of H. pylori bacteria
- a faecal occult blood test – used to detect hidden blood.
- Barium X-rays – You swallow barium, a white chalky substance that is visible on X-ray and are asked to lie down on a tilted examining table. The tilting distributes the barium evenly around your upper digestive tract and the X-ray can help locate the ulcer, and to determine its type and severity
- Endoscopy or gastroscopy
You are sedated and a slim, flexible lighted tube is inserted through your mouth to examine the stomach, esophagus and duodenum. During the procedure the doctor can also take a biopsy of skin tissue to test for H. pylori infection.
- Breath test to detect H.pylori
- Other tests for H.Pylori
A saliva test and one known as PCR – polymerase chain reaction, that uses cells from gums or stools and makes multiple copies of the DNA of H. Pylori until the bacteria is detected.
Heartburn ulcer – A severe side effect of persistent heartburn
It is essential that you handle the symptoms of heartburn by bringing about appropriate lifestyle changes, monitoring your medications and meeting a physician to counter severe heartburns. The more your esophagus is subjected to the reflux action of the stomach acids the more are your chances for developing heartburn ulcers. Hence take positive action quickly to avoid the complications of heartburn such as an ulcer.