Ulcers

Mordecai Dicker, MD

Gastroenterologist located in Great Neck, NY

Ulcers affecting your stomach lining and duodenum, the upper section of your small intestine, are known collectively as peptic ulcers. If you have any of the painful or uncomfortable symptoms of a peptic ulcer, Mordecai Dicker, MD, can help. Dr. Dicker is a board-certified gastroenterologist providing expert treatment to patients with peptic ulcers at his practice in Great Neck, New York. Find the right solution to your ulcer by calling Dr. Dicker today or booking an appointment using the online tool.

Ulcers Q & A

What is an ulcer?

An ulcer is an open sore in your body’s tissues that can be very painful and is often difficult to heal. Gastric ulcers are those affecting your stomach; duodenal ulcers are those that affect the upper part of your small intestine (the duodenum). Both types of ulcers cause similar symptoms, including:

  • Burning abdominal pain
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Bloating
  • Frequent belching

Not being able to tolerate high-fat foods is another symptom of an ulcer.

Although peptic ulcers can cause these symptoms, about 75% of the people who have an ulcer experience no symptoms and don’t realize they have one.

What causes an ulcer?

Ulcers develop when the body’s natural defenses against the corrosive effects of stomach acid break down. Stomach acid is highly corrosive, which is important for the initial digestion of the food you eat.

Your stomach and duodenal linings have a protective layer of thick mucus coating them, which prevents the acid from damaging the tissues. If that mucous layer thins out or erodes or stomach acid levels rise significantly, the acid can start attacking the unprotected tissues.

The most common reason why you might lose the protection of the mucus layer is if you have a helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterial infection. Certain medications can also cause peptic ulcers or make them worse if taken over extended periods. These medicines include:

  • Aspirin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Steroids
  • Anticoagulants
  • SSRI-type antidepressants

Before medical research identified H. pylori as the chief cause of peptic ulcers, doctors thought that lifestyle factors like stress, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and eating spicy foods were the causes of ulcers.

While it’s now known these factors don’t cause ulcers, they can make existing ulcers worse and affect tissue healing, so it’s best to address any symptoms promptly.

How are ulcers treated?

Dr. Dicker treats your ulcers after pinpointing their cause. For example, if you’re taking medications that can lead to the development of ulcers, he works with you to reduce or replace your prescriptions. H. pylori treatment involves using particular antibiotics that are effective at eliminating the bacteria.

You may also need medications like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and acid blockers or histamine (H2) blockers. These treatments prevent your stomach from producing excessive acid and PPIs help the tissues to heal as well.

Dr. Dicker might also use cytoprotective agents that improve blood flow and mucus production in your stomach and intestines to give them some protection and recommend antacids to neutralize excess stomach acid. If your ulcer is bleeding, he can stop it by using a minimally invasive procedure called an endoscopy.

If you’re concerned about your gut health or have symptoms that could be due to an ulcer, call Dr. Dicker today or book an appointment online.