How do stomach ulcers feel?
Examine the stomach
Bellyache: a widespread disease
A queasy feeling, nausea and pain: everyone has probably experienced that the stomach twists here and there. "Often the symptoms are harmless and pass quickly," says Christoph Schramm, senior physician at the Clinic for Gastroenterology at the University Hospital in Cologne.
If the pain recurs or lasts for more than a week, that's different. Even if family members have already had a stomach ailment, those affected should have their symptoms checked out by the doctor, says Schramm.
Anamnesis: Get a first impression
Where does the pain occur? How does it feel? Are they convulsive or stabbing? Does the discomfort come after eating or do you feel it all the time?
"I ask the patient these questions to get a first impression," says gastrointestinal doctor Christoph Schramm. He then examines the victim's stomach.
"I feel the area of the stomach to locate the pain," says Schramm. "And to check whether other organs such as the intestines or pancreas are also affected."
The doctor can determine whether the organ is responding to pressure by tapping it lightly. After examining the body, the gastroenterologist knows which diseases are likely - and which are not.
Ultrasound: image the stomach wall
An ultrasound examination provides further information: "The layers and density of the gastric mucosa can be displayed with it," says Schramm.
The doctor can detect lumps or ulcers in the mucous membrane on the ultrasound image. In addition, the examination is easy to carry out, painless and without radiation exposure, says the doctor.
Gastroscopy: rule out anything serious
With a gastroscopy, the doctor can clarify whether the patient's stomach lining is inflamed. He can also determine more serious causes, such as a stomach ulcer or, in the worst case, stomach cancer.
"During the examination, we push a thin tube through the patient's mouth and esophagus," says Schramm. A camera is attached to the end of the tube so that doctors can observe the entire stomach.
If a spot is noticeable, Schramm and his colleagues can also insert devices through the hose. They use it to remove a piece of tissue in order to examine it more closely.
The patient is usually given a light anesthetic during the examination. The gastroscopy itself only takes six to seven minutes. Together with the preparation and waking up, the person concerned remains in the hospital for about an hour.
Breath test: detect bacteria
If an infection is suspected, it makes sense to carry out a breath test: "The patient drinks a sugar solution and then exhales into a machine," says Schramm.
The result of the test: the concentration of the Helicobacter bacteria. These are often responsible for gastric mucosal inflammation and stomach ulcers. "The test also gives evidence of lactose intolerance," says the doctor.
pH and pressure measurement: determine heartburn
If the person concerned has pain in the throat and has to burp sour, heartburn could be the cause. To clarify the diagnosis, the doctor measures the pH in the esophagus using a probe.
"A very acidic value indicates heartburn," says the gastric expert Schramm. With a pressure measurement, the doctor can also examine the function of the esophagus.
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