Could Your Chronic Stomach Pain Be an Ulcer?
By Norbert Richardson, MD
Are you experiencing pain when you eat or drink? Ulcers in bariatric patients can be one of the most common and frustrating complications bariatric patients can experience. While often not life threatening, they can certainly make you take notice every time you decide to eat or drink. Ulcers are generally found in patients who have had bariatric surgery within the past year. But, they can occur in patients who are farther out from their bariatric procedure. However, these patients generally have some high risk factors that have caused the ulceration to occur, such as taking medications that are known to cause ulcers or smoking. The frequency of their occurrence in this population is variable depending on the source of the research. If left untreated, ulcers can perforate the stomach which may require surgery. Patients can also develop protein malnutrition, especially when they find consuming foods and fluids difficult. Recognizing the symptoms and notifying your physician in a timely fashion can help shorten the amount of time that you suffer.
Symptoms of an Ulcer
Symptoms of ulcers can be somewhat vague. Patients often report complaints of abdominal pain. This pain can be in one specific location or diffused throughout the abdomen. The pain can be constant or may often worsen with consumption of foods and fluids. Many patients complain of mild nausea and unexplained vomiting, some of which may be mucous-like in nature. In extreme cases, vomiting of blood is seen.
The healing process can take anywhere from 3-6 months. Some ulcers are more resistant to treatment than others. By removing the underlying causes and improving nutrition, we significantly increase the likelihood of healing these areas. Regular follow up with your bariatric provider is always encouraged.