Ulcers in the stomach or duodenum (part of the small intestine just beyond the stomach) are known as peptic ulcers.
Peptic ulcers occur when there is an imbalance between the digestive juices (gastric acid or pepsin) produced by the stomach and the protective factors of the stomach.
Stomach ulcers can cause a host of problems when they occur. One such problem people wonder about is whether stomach ulcers can cause headaches and dizziness.
Let us take a look at whether stomach ulcers can cause headaches and dizziness.
Stomach ulcers, also known as gastric ulcers, are painful lesions on the stomach lining. Peptic ulcer disease includes stomach ulcers.
Although stomach ulcers are easily treatable, they can develop into severe complications if not treated properly.
The causes of stomach ulcers include any of the following:
- A stomach infection caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
- Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen over an extended period or used in high doses. (3)
- Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a rare illness that causes stomach and intestine ulcers by boosting the body’s acid production. This syndrome may be responsible for less than 1% of all peptic ulcers. (4)
Stomach ulcers are associated with a range of symptoms. The severity of the ulcer determines the severity of the symptoms.
A burning sensation or discomfort in the centre of your abdomen, between your chest and belly button, is the most prevalent symptom. When your stomach is empty, the discomfort is usually strong, and it can last anywhere from a few minutes to many hours.
Ulcers can also cause the following signs and symptoms:
- Bloody vomit (Hematemesis)
- Dull pain in the stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling full easily
- Weight loss
- Acid reflux
- Dark stools (melena)
Warning symptoms that require urgent referral include
- Overt gastrointestinal bleeding
- Progressive difficulty and pain in swallowing.
- Unplanned weight loss
- Recurrent vomiting
- Severe iron deficiency anaemia
- family history of malignancy in the upper gastrointestinal tract (5)
Yes, complications from stomach ulcers can cause headaches and dizziness. Ulcers may cause bleeding inside your stomach and duodenum and if this is significant, anaemia develops. . Headaches and dizziness are frequent symptoms of anaemia (6).
Your symptoms and the severity of your ulcer will determine your diagnosis and treatment options. Your doctor will examine your medical history, symptoms, and your use of prescription or over-the-counter medications to determine if you have a stomach ulcer and the possible causes.
The following tests and techniques are used to identify stomach ulcers:
EGD is a procedure that involves inserting a thin, lighted tube via your mouth into your stomach and the first part of your small intestine. This test is performed to check for ulcers, bleeding, and any abnormal tissue.
A thick white liquid (barium) is swallowed, which coats your upper gastrointestinal tract and allows your doctor to examine your stomach and small intestine on X-rays. It is indicated when EGD cannot be performed and an alternative is required.
A sample of stomach tissue is extracted and sent to a lab for analysis.
Blood, stool, or breath tests are needed to rule out H. pylori infection (7).
The aetiology (causes) and severity of your ulcer determine the type of treatment you receive. Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat the majority of ulcers. However, rare circumstances may require surgery.
It is critical to treat an ulcer as soon as possible. Consult your doctor about a treatment strategy. If your ulcer is actively bleeding, you may be hospitalised for endoscopy and IV ulcer medication. A blood transfusion may also be required.
If you have a stomach ulcer caused by H. pylori, you’ll require antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs inhibit the production of acid by stomach cells.
In addition to or as alternatives to these treatments, your doctor may also recommend:
- H2 receptor blockers (drugs that also block acid production)
- Stopping the use of all NSAIDs or switching to a lower dose if NSAID is to be continued.
- Follow-up endoscopy
- Probiotics (useful bacteria that may have a role in killing off H. pylori)
- Bismuth supplement (8).
With therapy, the symptoms of an ulcer may go away rapidly. Even if your symptoms go away, you should continue to take any medication your doctor has prescribed. This is especially critical when dealing with H. pylori infections because the goal is to eradicate the causative organisms.
The following are possible side effects of drugs used to treat stomach ulcers:
- Abdominal pain
These adverse effects are usually only present for a short time. If any of these side effects are causing you a lot of pain, talk to your doctor about switching medications (9).
A severe stomach ulcer may necessitate surgery in uncommon circumstances. This may be the case with ulcers that:
- recur often
- Do not get better
- Continuous bleeding
Surgery may include:
- Taking tissue from another part of the intestines and patching it over the ulcer site
- Tying off a bleeding artery
- Removal of the entire ulcer
- Cutting off the nerve supply to the stomach to reduce the production of stomach acid (10).
Maintaining a healthy diet can also help with stomach ulcers. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and fibre is a good idea. It is likely that certain meals aid in the elimination of H. pylori. Foods that may aid in the fight against H. pylori or the growth of the body’s beneficial bacteria include:
- Leafy greens like spinach
- Olive oil
- Honey (11).
Wash your hands with soap and water regularly to prevent the spread of bacteria that might cause a stomach ulcer. Also, make sure that you clean all of your food before cooking it.
To avoid ulcers caused by NSAIDs, discontinue or reduce your use of these medications. If you must take NSAIDs, be careful to take them exactly as prescribed and avoid drinking alcohol. Also, take these medications with food and plenty of water.
Headaches and dizziness might be caused by a stomach ulcer. The majority of stomach ulcers go unnoticed until they pose a serious condition, such as bleeding. This can cause stomach discomfort and disorientation as a result of blood loss.