Can Stomach Ulcers Be Cured Without Surgery

There are some procedures to treat stomach ulcer, an open sore that forms in the stomach lining. Treatment is usually focused to target the underlying cause of the problem. For example, antibiotics are required if H-pylori infection has a role to cause the disease. How about surgical procedure? Can the disease be cured without surgery?

Surgery is one of treatment options for stomach ulcer. But nowadays it’s less likely to be used to treat the disease due to the many effective non-surgical treatments now available!

Non-surgical medications are often enough to cope with the disease. With effective medications, the disease will heal without leaving serious after effects – this is especially true when the open sore in your stomach lining hasn’t become advanced.

The key is seeking medical help as soon as you feel any symptoms of the disease. When the disease is treated at its early stages, you can gain the recovery more easily.

Some common stomach ulcer symptoms are as follows:

  1. Burning stomach pain, which is the most common symptom. The pain is likely to flare up with empty stomach.
  2. Other stomach discomforts such as nausea, fatty food intolerance, belching, bloating, or feeling of fullness.
  3. Heartburn.
  4. Depending on the severity of the disease, you might also experience unintentional weight loss, appetite loss, trouble breathing, feeling faint, passing stools with blood, or vomiting blood!
What is ulcer surgery for?
As well we know that controlling stomach acid is crucial to treat stomach ulcer. If stomach acid production is out of control, the open sore on the inside lining of the stomach is harder to heal. Surgery used to remove specific parts of the stomach that stimulate or cause excess acid production. But today, there are many medications that can effectively control stomach acid production without surgery.

Non-surgical medications include:

  1. Medications to reduce or control your stomach acid. There may be several options to choose from, but the most common ones are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and histamine H-2 blockers. Since these medications don’t start to work right away, antacids may also be prescribed to help provide ulcer pain relief.
  2. Antibiotics, to fight against H-pylori infection. If the underlying cause of your ulcer is H-pylori infection, take the full course of your antibiotics. Don’t stop early, even if you begin to get better – otherwise some bacteria may remain, become resistant, and more difficult to kill.
  3. If necessary, your doctor may also prescribe medications to give extra protection to your stomach lining such as sucralfate (cytoprotective agents).

However, surgery is still required in rare cases. It might be recommended with the following situations:

  1. Some people may not be able to take the medications due to certain reason. In such case, surgery could be suggested.
  2. If the medications have not worked in. Some ulcers may persist (fail to heal) after treatment. This situation is called ‘refractory ulcer’. There are some factors that can make the problem persist, harder to treat – read more here!
  3. If you have suffered a serious, major complication of the disease such as perforated and bleeding ulcer.

In rare cases, the excessive stomach acid production doesn’t respond to non-surgical medications and your doctor’s best efforts. Surgery to help control acid production may include:

  1. In this kind of surgery, the surgeon carefully selectively removes certain nerves that stimulate excess acid production.
  2. Pyloroplasty, a surgical procedure to dilate the base of the stomach. It’s usually used with vagotomy.
  3. Partial gastrectomy, a procedure to remove part of the stomach that excites acid secretion so the stomach acid levels are easier to manage.

If you need to take surgery, it should outweigh the risks. The side effects range from mild to serious such as diarrhea, dumping syndrome, bleeding, blood clot, and infection. How long recovery takes after surgery can vary, depending on some factors such as; your overall health, age, and another medical condition you have (see more here).

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