Acid Indigestio​n or a Peptic Ulcer?

If you are having abdominal pain, stress, or just a feeling of discomfort with your digestive system you may be worried if those symptoms come from a problem with digesting food (indigestion) or if you may have something worse (peptic ulcers). I have had both conditions from time to time so I may be able to help you discern (and perhaps put your mind at ease) if you have indigestion or a peptic ulcer.

First of all, it is necessary to clarify that acid indigestion is not an actual disease although it can have very severe symptoms and can make you very uncomfortable even incapacitated to follow a normal life for a few hours or days. A peptic ulcer is a more serious issue. It is actually a disease and need proper medical treatment.

Both acid indigestion and peptic ulcers will affect your abdomen. You may feel pain in the abdominal area in both cases. What I have noticed in my indigestion attacks (and confirmed through reading scientific literature and medical advice) is that the abdominal pain tends to disappear if you do not eat. Sometimes nausea and bloating may occur. Abdominal pain was also present when I had peptic ulcers (2 times in my adult life) but this pain tend to stop (at least temporarily) if you eat something. Also, abdominal pain is worse at night in the case of ulcers. Depending of the severity of the ulcer there may be other symptoms such as vomiting with blood, nausea and blood in the stools.

The causes of acid indigestion and peptic ulcers are quite different. Indigestion is usually triggered by overeating and eating certain type of foods. In my case it is fatty fried products which causes it. My peptic ulcers have always been due to the presence of a bacteria in my digestive tract called Helicobacter pylori. This bacteria is normally present is our food system and may just get into your system through your food. Other known causes of peptic ulcers are certain medications like over the counter anti-inflammatory pills.

Despite the general differences I have mentioned above the best way to know if you have a peptic ulcer is through a scope test. Of course you doctor will need to order it after he has made a clinical evaluation of your case. With the scope test your esophagus and stomach lining will be observed to see the presence of the lacerations caused by the ulcer. It is a quick an easy out-patient taste with great results.

I hope you have a better idea of what you may have (acid indigestion or peptic ulcer) if you are experiencing some of the symptoms mentioned in this article. Do not hesitate to talk to your doctor if symptoms persist for some time. He will be in the best position to tell you what are your treatment option if you have acid indigestion or peptic ulcers.


Personal experience with both medical issues

Indigestion Mayo Clinic

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

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