Women health


Stress ulcer symptoms and treatment

The upper digestive system becomes infected by a stress ulcer. In addition to causing stomach lining damage, these sores raise the risk of infection and are painful and burning. From moderate itchiness to significant bleeding, the damage is considerable.

Those who are physically extremely stressed, such as those in intensive care units, frequently get ulcers.

Physicians may refer to stress ulcers as mucosal damage caused by stress.

Reducing stomach acid and the risk of major infection, bleeding, and shock are the main objectives of treatment.


The difference between a stress ulcer and a peptic ulcer aggravated by stress is important to understand.

Despite the fact that both create sores in the lining of the stomach and intestines, a typical peptic ulcer, also known as a stomach ulcer, typically develops over time when medicines or infections weaken the gastrointestinal lining. Usually, as a result of physiological stress, stress ulcers develop suddenly.

Extreme stress, such as the stress of a significant accident or infection, can exacerbate ulcers and several acidic foods. This can be due to the rise in stomach acid brought on by stress.

Whereas stomach ulcers that are aggravated by stress are rarely serious, stress ulcers, which typically affect very ill patients, can be fatal.

Acid is created by the stomach on its own to aid in food digestion. A person may experience the signs of an ulcer when the stomach's acidic environment changes or gets too acidic.

Changes in the body's pH can cause ulcers in persons who are experiencing extreme physiological stress. All ulcers, including stress ulcers, are more likely to develop in people who have Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infections.

Very severe psychological stress might sporadically cause a stress ulcer. For instance, a 2018 case report describes how to manage a toddler's ulcer. She resisted attending daycare for a month before the ulcer developed. According to the physicians, the ulcer was most likely brought on by stress.

The risk of stomach and intestinal lining injury is increased by specific health and lifestyle variables. Several elements increase the risk of developing an ulcer, particularly one brought on by stress:

  1. H. pylori contamination
  2. The use of NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen

A propensity for ulcers may also raise the likelihood of a stress ulcer in those dealing with catastrophic accidents or medical issues.

Early signs and Symptoms

Pain from stress ulcers may lessen or increase with meal consumption.


While severe ulcers may result in excruciating pain and life-threatening problems, minor ulcers may not even show any signs at all. As stress ulcer patients are already ill, it can be challenging to identify ulcer symptoms from those of other illnesses.

Stress ulcer signs and symptoms include:

  1. Stomach ache in the upper region
  2. Pain that changes based on what you eat
  3. Feeling overstuffed or bloated
  4. Dizziness or vomiting
  5. Shortening of breath and pale skin are signs of anemia

Blood loss from some ulcers can be dangerously high. This blood loss can be fatal in patients who are already dealing with life-threatening injuries.

A rapidly bleeding ulcer has the following symptoms:

  1. Vomit that is red or looks like coffee grounds
  2. Reddish or maroon stools
  3. Extremely tarry, dark bowel motions
  4. Experiencing dizziness or fainting


A doctor must examine the digestive system to make an ulcer diagnosis. To see the ulcer, they might employ an endoscope, a lengthy, thin tube. In addition, they might do tests on your blood, breath, or stool to look for the H. pylori bacteria, a significant ulcer risk factor.

The ulcer's severity and the symptoms it generates will determine the best course of action. Blood transfusions may be required for patients who are bleeding severely.

Reduced stomach acid and a decreased risk of life-threatening infections, bleeding, and shock are the main goals of treatment.

Options for treatment include:

  1. PPIs or proton pump inhibitors: This class of medications works to lower stomach acid. When taking PPIs, a person's gastrin levels rise, which may cause their stomach acid to rise if they stop taking the medication. So, it's crucial to stick with the recommended course of treatment.
  2. famotidine and cimetidine. Certain antihistamines have anticholinergic properties. This indicates that they interfere with acetylcholine's activity. The processes that drive the stomach to secrete acid are stimulated by acetylcholine.


To avoid stress ulcers, a doctor could advise PPIs and histamine blockers.

In emergency and acute care settings, stress ulcers are particularly common. Stress ulcers appear within 72 hours of an incident in more than 75% of patients hospitalized with serious burns or head injuries. As a result, several hospitals provide their patients with drugs to stop ulcers and often monitor them.

Both prevention and treatment methods for stress ulcers exist; PPIs and histamine blockers may lessen the chance of developing a stress ulcer.

There is no need to provide preventative care to everyone who is hospitalized, according to a Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine assessment. Preventive care that isn't necessary raises prices and complicates things.

Patients who fit any of the following descriptions are advised to receive preventative care, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists:

  1. Employing blood thinners
  2. More than 48 hours spent using a ventilator
  3. The previous year, an ulcer
  4. In the last year, there has been stomach bleeding
  5. Sepsis or a generalized infection
  6. More than a week-long stay in the intensive care unit
  7. Stomach bleeding that lasts for at least six days
  8. Taking daily doses of hydrocortisone that exceed 250 mg

A bland diet was once advised by doctors to patients who had a history of ulcers. This is not required, according to a recent study. Although some people experience worsening symptoms after eating particular foods, spicy foods do not directly cause ulcers.


Individuals who are susceptible to stress ulcers frequently have grave medical conditions such as infections, organ failure, or brain injuries. A stress ulcer can result in severe bleeding and inflammation that makes other diseases more difficult to treat. This indicates that stress ulcers pose a greater risk than common peptic ulcers.

Most patients at risk of stress ulcers are already hospitalized. While experiencing ulcer symptoms after a recent hospitalization, a patient should see a doctor right once.

It is crucial for a doctor to evaluate any ulcer symptoms that appear because not all severe ulcers instantly generate dangerous symptoms.

The prognosis relies on a number of variables, including the ulcer's severity and the patient's general condition. Rapid bleeding from ulcers can result in life-threatening blood loss. Healing may be challenging as a result.

But, both stress ulcers and the problems that produce them can be treated effectively.

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