Ulcers are like an internal wound, caused by damage of the lining in the digestive tract by the H.Pylori bacteria. When the damage is deep enough and hits a blood vessel, then you have yourself a bleeding ulcer.
A bleeding ulcer can kill you if left unattended for a long time. As one expert said, ‘Your own blood will kill you’. The pain of an ulcer is felt anywhere in the area between the navel and the upper breast bone. But with the onset of the bleeding, the ulcer will become painless as the blood neutralizes the acid that is eroding on your raw flesh. Because it is mostly painless, it is difficult for most people to realize that something is wrong. Some will actually think their ulcer just got better. One out of every ten people with a bleeding ulcer has reported it to have been painless; this can get very deadly very fast.
Causes and risk factors of the bleeding:
Alcohol and smoking are said to aggravate the situation and likely to make the ulcer expand faster. This will cause it to reach the blood vessels, eroding on them and causing them to burst, thus the bleeding. In general however, the bleeding starts when the ulcer digs in too deep into the stomach and duodenum walls, hitting the blood vessel. So anything that worsens an ulcer is a possible cause for the bleed.
Symptoms to watch out for:
• Very smelly black tarry stool, which is actually blood from the bleed that made its way to the intestines and was digested.
• Nausea and vomiting, the vomit will most likely be bloody.
• Weakness, tiredness and light-headedness, especially when one stands up too quickly. This is due to the loss of blood as the person has now become anemic.
• Extreme pain may then sprout out in specific areas especially for people with advanced ulcers.
• Unexplained loss of weight, as the body tries to compensate for the loss of blood.
Diagnosis and possible treatments
When one identifies the above symptoms, they should go to see a doctor. The physician will then carry out endoscopic and or X-ray exams to determine if the ulcer has started to bleed.
Using the endoscope, the doctor will search the digestive tract for the bleeding ulcer and will cauterize it immediately if possible. He may also use a gastroscopy to determine if the ulcer has become cancerous or not.
Changing one’s lifestyle is the best way to ensure healing of the ulcer. Medications to be taken include H2-blockers, antibiotics, and Proton pump blockers. The patient should also stay away from ibuprofen and aspirin as they are likely to agitate the bleed even more.
A bleeding ulcer depending on its severity will kill you if left untreated. We all know that internal bleeding is not a good sign and for a slow bleed it is even harder for the victim to realize what is going on as it is mostly painless. Be careful to watch out for the symptoms and if you suspect anything you should go see a doctor right away. It may be nothing, but if it is, it will save your life.