Ulcers and Acid Reflux: Answers to the Most Burning QuestionsHow Common Are Gastric Disorders?
One in 10 adults will suffer from ulcers at some point. And millions more will experience chronic heartburn (also known as acid or gastroesophageal reflux). "Locally, we see about 1,000 cases of peptic ulcers every year," explains Uniontown Gastroenterologist Dr. Frederick Ruthardt.
What Causes These Disorders?
Contrary to popular belief, heartburn is not caused by eating acidic foods. It's caused by gastroesophageal reflux, the backup of the stomach's contents into the lower esophagus, where the gastric acids produce a burning sensation.
And peptic ulcers are not caused by stress or anxiety, but by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H-pylori) which infects the stomach and small intestine.
What's the Best Course of Treatment?
"First, get a diagnosis from your doctor," explains Dr. Ruthardt. "Many different disorders can cause very similar symptoms."
If you're diagnosed with reflux, over-the-counter medications like Pepcid‚ Zantac‚ and Tagamet‚ are usually the first course of action. "The active ingredients in these products are different, but they all do the same thing: cut down on acid," says Dr. Ruthardt.
If Helicobacter pylori is the culprit, antibiotics will be prescribed. "If you've experienced more than two severe episodes of heartburn or stomach pain in one week, call your doctor," advises Dr. Ruthardt. "Besides reflux and ulcers, there are many other conditions that require treatment, and only through testing can we pinpoint the problem." Return to LEARN MORE