How Do GI Doctors Diagnose And Treat Ulcers?

Stomach ulcers are quite a common occurrence in modern society. If you have a burning sensation in your stomach, or if you often feel nauseous after eating, then you may have an ulcer. It is a good idea to see a stomach doctor or gastroenterologist. Here are a few steps this doctor will take to diagnose and treat you.

Ulcer Diagnosis

Your GI doctor will often begin by talking to you about your symptoms. The symptoms of a stomach ulcer can be similar to those of an intestinal blockage, stomach cancer, and appendicitis. However, the GI doctor will know what questions to ask and what specifics to assess for in order to determine whether an ulcer or another condition is most likely.

If your GI doctor does think you have an ulcer, then they'll generally send you in for a scope. A camera will be sent down your esophagus and into your stomach. It will generate images of your stomach wall, and the GI doctor can tell whether those images show any signs of ulceration. 

Ulcer Treatment

If your GI doctor does see that you have an ulcer, then there are a few treatments they may recommend. They'll usually start by prescribing a course of antibiotics. Most ulcers are caused or made worse by a bacterium called H. pylori, and antibiotics can help clear these bacteria so they don't continue making your ulcers worse.

In addition to antibiotics, your doctor will likely prescribe a medication called a proton pump inhibitor. This medication will decrease the amount of acid your stomach lining secretes. The lower acid levels will allow your stomach lining to heal. You will usually need to take these medications for a month or so. Then your GI doctor will reassess to see whether or not your ulcer has healed. If it has not, you will need to continue taking the medication for a bit longer.

The most serious ulcers may need to be surgically repaired. This is only needed when the ulcer is bleeding excessively or when it has not responded to other treatments. The surgery is usually performed via the esophagus and is a minimally invasive procedure.

If you think you might have an ulcer, do not continue ignoring your symptoms. Talk to a GI specialist, and make an appointment for a diagnostic appointment. If ulcers are, in fact, the cause of your symptoms, there is a lot that can be done about it. Reach out to a local gastroenterologist to learn more.